A Bayer factory in Wuppertal, Germany. Picture: REUTERS
A Bayer factory in Wuppertal, Germany. Picture: REUTERS

Germany’s Bayer, which acquired seed company Monsanto in 2018, reduced its combined sales estimate for its most promising experimental drugs, acknowledging it needs to do more to replenish the development pipeline.

At its capital markets day in London on Wednesday, it said the tally of peak sales potential of its five most promising drugs is more than €3.75bn, compared with a target of more than €6bn for the top six drugs reiterated as recently as June.

Bayer last week announced the sale of a number of businesses, about 12,000 job cuts and €3.3bn in impairments. Bayer faces a threat to revenues in 2024 when the patent on blockbuster heart drug Xarelto runs out. Sales from eye drug Eylea, its second-best-selling drug, are expected to suffer from competing drugs before that.

Bayer said it halted trials testing its experimental uterine fibroids treatment vilaprisan, which it previously expected to generate peak annual sales of more than €1bn, citing the risk of side effects.

We need to fill our midterm pipeline furthermore over the next few years.

It also no longer included a peak sales estimate for anetumab ravtansine, a drug for asbestos-linked cancer-type mesothelioma, previously seen generating more than €2bn in annual revenues.

The group’s former head of pharmaceuticals, Dieter Weinand, said a year ago there was still hope for anetumab despite a setback in a phase II trial in 2017, but Weinand quit and was replaced by Sanofi executive Stefan Oelrich in November.

Bayer added to the tally an annual peak sales potential of more than €750m for larotrectinib against a variety of cancers driven by a rare genetic mutation. The drug, co-developed with Loxo Oncology, won US market approval last week.

Bayer said in presentation slides that it plans to supplement its existing pipeline with in-licensing and bolt-on takeover deals.

“We need to fill our midterm pipeline furthermore” over the next few years, Oelrich told investors at the event, adding that the early- and late-stage pipeline is strong.

Bayer also said it aims to increase adjusted group core earnings to €16bn in 2022, up from an expected €12.2bn in 2018, but that target does not yet take into account the planned divestment of its animal health unit or the effect of currency swings.