Bayer, Boehringer eye big growth in expanding anticoagulant market

Blood-clot fighters are expected to grow faster than any other drugs over the next 6 years. Here are two reasons why: The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog gave final clearance to Bayer's anticoagulant drug Xarelto for use in preventing potentially fatal blood clots in the lungs and legs. Meanwhile, Boehringer Ingelheim was filing for European approval for its new-generation anticoagulant, Pradaxa, for similar uses.

Already approved to fight blood clots and stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, as well as to prevent clotting in certain surgery patients, Pradaxa is up for review as a treatment for acute deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, as well as to prevent those events.

The market for these uses is large--and growing as populations age. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says 50,000 people per year in the U.K. will suffer acute, life-threatening clots in the legs by 2016. An estimated 38,000 per year in England and Wales already suffer a pulmonary embolism. Meanwhile, between the E.U. and the U.S., there are 2.5 million cases of these clots every year, PMLive reports.

In fact, EvaluatePharma's new World Preview report predicts that the market for anticoagulant drugs will soar by 11.5% annually through 2018, hitting $15.3 billion in sales. Right now, the market is valued at $8 billion. The next-fastest-growing therapeutic area is oncology, EvaluatePharma says, at 9% annually.

Xarelto does have a head start in this new segment of the anticoagulant market, having won approval in Europe last year. Pradaxa, on the other hand, hit the market first as a stroke-prevention treatment in AF patients. The two also compete against Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) newly minted Eliquis in stroke prevention; it is widely expected to garner market share quickly. The companies haven't yet submitted Eliquis for PE and DVT prevention.

For years, these maladies have been treated with warfarin, but the new drugs are more easily administered because they don't need the regular blood-level monitoring required with warfarin. Some safety concerns have arisen because these new meds don't have quick antidotes as warfarin does. But EvaluatePharma predicts Xarelto will hit $3.7 billion in sales by 2018, with Eliquis close behind at $3.56 billion. That would put them 19th and 21st on the list of 2018's biggest drugs worldwide.

- see the NICE release
- get more from the Daily Mail
- here's more from PMLive