Bayer nabs new Eylea nod to help it toward 2015 sales target

Bayer said earlier this week that it would be counting on eye blockbuster Eylea to provide some serious sales growth in 2015, and now, it has a new indication the company hopes can help it get there.

The EC has greenlighted Eylea to treat patients with visual impairment due to macular edema secondary to retinal vein occlusion (RVO), regulators announced Friday. While Bayer already had a nod for edema following central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), the new label expansion is a catch-all that also covers edema from branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO).

"RVO is a chronic disease that requires early and ongoing management to obtain the best possible vision, which is critical as many patients are still of working-age," Joerg Moeller, Bayer HealthCare's head of global development, said in a statement. "This new therapeutic approach allows physicians to individualize therapy for each patient, maximizing time between treatments. This reduces the treatment burden on patients, physicians and their clinics."

It'll also help get Bayer closer to the €4 billion sales mark it's set for its Big 5 pharma products, a group that in addition to Eylea comprises blood thinner Xarelto, cancer meds Stivarga and Xofigo, and pulmonary arterial hypertension treatment Adempas. If it hits that target, it'll be a big leap from the €2.9 billion in revenue the quintet pulled in last year. And as Bayer prepares to hive off its plastics business and home in on life sciences, that's revenue it could use.

But it hasn't been all smooth sailing for Eylea in Europe, thanks to the continent's cost-effectiveness watchdogs. Just last week, the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the country's National Health Service cover the med for diabetic macular edema patients but excluded those with early stages of the disease. And back in December, Germany's Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) said Eylea didn't perform any better than Novartis ($NVS) rival Lucentis in that same patient group.

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