With Big 5, Bayer aims for 8% annual pharma growth through 2016

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers

Late last month, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers said the company's group of 5 quick-selling new meds would reach loftier sales numbers than it originally expected, with the top two--Xarelto and Eylea--reaching peak sales in 5 or 6 years. Now, the CEO of the German drugmaker is pinning some numbers on the medium term; the Big 5 will help Bayer aim for an average of 8% annual growth in its pharma unit through 2016, Dekkers said Wednesday.

The group, also consisting of cancer treatments Stivarga and Xofigo and pulmonary arterial hypertension drug Adempas, is already planned to reach about €2.8 billion this year, the company said. That should help the HealthCare unit, which also comprises Bayer's Consumer Care, Medical Care and Animal Health divisions, increase total sales by an average of 6% per year.

"We're optimistic for all of our subgroups and see continuing potential for further sales and earnings growth in the medium term," Dekkers told an investor conference in Germany, as quoted by the company. "I'm particularly confident about our healthcare business thanks to the encouraging development of the 5 pharmaceutical products we have recently launched."

A few weeks ago, Bayer forecast €7.5 billion ($10.3 billion) or more in combined sales for those 5 drugs, raising its projections by €2 billion in light of performances from Xarelto and Eylea. It's not hard to see why: The pair, both featured on FiercePharma's list of Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars for 2013, has gotten off to a hot start, surpassing analyst expectations with ease.

And that could just be the start. The company is working to expand the labels of both drugs; it's currently examining how well Xarelto, combined with aspirin, can stave off heart attack, death and stroke in patients with coronary or peripheral artery disease. And Eylea has recently turned in positive data for new uses, too, succeeding in a late-stage study as a treatment for diabetic macular edema, for one.

But new uses alone won't help the drugs fulfill their sales potential. As Dekkers noted on an investor call last month, the company is upping its pharma marketing and R&D spend by €500 million in 2014.

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