J&J, Bayer can celebrate with ACS data on Xarelto

The big American Heart Association confab has begun, and already it has produced some big news. Data on Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Xarelto has doctors predicting a new standard of care in a new use that could spell billions in sales for the new-generation anti-clotting drug. The data, recently announced in brief, gives Xarelto a boost against other new drugs in that class, including Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa and Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) forthcoming Eliquis.

Patients recovering from heart attack or severe chest pain--aka, those with acute coronary syndrome, or ACS--are much less likely to die or have another heart attack or stroke if they add a very low dose of Xarelto to standard anti-clotting therapy, a 15,000-plus patient study found. Death risk for the Xarelto patients was 34% lower than in patients on the usual treatment. It's "a new standard of anti-thrombotic therapy," one AHA commentator said (as quoted by Reuters).

This could mean big money for J&J and Bayer: The ACS market may be worth $3 billion, Reuters said, while Bloomberg puts the market at $1 billion-plus. The companies plan to ask the FDA for the indication by year's end; Xarelto is already approved for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation, as well as for clot prevention after certain surgeries.

"You only have to treat 56 patients to save a life. It's hard not to be excited by the mortality benefit," said Dr. Michael Gibson, the study's lead investigator (as quoted by Reuters), adding, "[i]f it is approved (for this use) I think it will be widely adopted."

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