Bayer has posted a decent set of figures for the first quarter which show that earnings for the group were hurt by the performance of its material sciences operations, but its pharmaceuticals fared well.

Turnover edged up 2.1% to 10.27 billion euros, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortisation and special items was up just 0.4% to 2.45 billion euros. The rather lacklustre showing was the result of cost pressures at the aforementioned plastics unit.

Pharmaceutical revenues increased 1.9% to 2.56 billion euros. Bayer's best-seller was the haemophilia agent Kogenate (recombinant antihaemophilic factor) which rose 2.0% to 301 million euros, followed by Betaferon/Betaseron (interferon beta 1b) for multiple sclerosis, down 8% to 254 million euros.

The Yaz/Yasmin (drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol) franchise, the subject of lawsuits in the USA from women claiming the contraceptives caused blood clots, fell 15.6% to 206 million euros due to generic competition in western Europe. However, Mirena, the firm’s levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine contraceptive system, rose 3.8% to 166 million euros.

Nexavar (sorafenib), which is approved for liver as well as advanced kidney cancer, contributed 173 million euros, down 7.0%, while the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra (vardenafil) declined 9.3% to 75 million euros.

On the positive side, the anticoagulant Xarelto (rivaroxaban), which Bayer believes will be its key earnings driver, contributed 155 million euros, up from 42 million euros in the like, year-earlier period. Bayer was also pleased with the recently-launched ophthalmology agent Eylea (aflibercept) and Stivarga (regorafenib) for gastrointestinal stromal tumours and colorectal cancer. The drugs had sales of 49 million euros and 40 million euros, respectively.