Study of the drug Asundexian stopped: Bayer shares crash

As of: November 20, 2023 3:29 p.m

The drug Asundexian was considered one of the most important developed by the pharmaceutical company Bayer. Now it is proving to be less effective than hoped. The company’s shares plummet.

The shares of the chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer fell massively after the premature termination of a study on the anticoagulant Asundexian. The value of the shares in the Leverkusen company on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange temporarily fell by 19 percent to a good 33 euros on Monday. This is the biggest price fall in at least 32 years.

On Sunday evening, Bayer announced that a phase III study of the drug would be stopped prematurely due to poor effectiveness. The decision is based on a recommendation from an independent monitoring committee for scientific studies. Previous study results have shown “inferior effectiveness” of the drug compared to the control group.

The company wants to further analyze the data to better understand the result, it said. The phase III Stroke study with 9,300 test subjects, in which Asundexian is being tested for the prevention of ischemic stroke, will continue.

Hope for annual sales of five billion euros

Asundexian should be used in patients with atrial fibrillation and at risk of stroke. The drug was considered an important source of hope for the group and was actually supposed to be ready for the market from 2026.

According to previous information, Bayer expected annual sales of more than five billion euros from the drug – more than with any of its other medications. When asked today, Bayer did not want to comment on the forecast.

“Asundexian was the pearl in Bayer’s pharmaceutical pipeline, and without the active ingredient, the pharmaceutical division will be without sustainable growth,” said fund manager Markus Manns from major shareholder Union Investment.

Important patents will soon expire

Replenishment from the pharmaceutical pipeline is essential for the Leverkusen-based group, as the patents on its blockbusters – the anticoagulant Xarelto and the eye drug Eylea – expire in the middle of the decade. For a long time, investors were skeptical as to whether Bayer would be able to absorb these losses in the future. With Asundexian the mood had changed.

According to market observers, the premature termination of the study that has now been announced comes as a complete surprise. Bayer’s pharmaceutical business is therefore facing considerable challenges, explained the analysts at Barclays.

New compensation payments for glyphosate

Just last week, Bayer suffered another setback in the USA. A court in Jefferson City, Missouri, ordered Bayer’s subsidiary Monsanto to pay more than $1.5 billion in damages. The three plaintiffs attribute their cancers to years of using the controversial weedkiller glyphosate.

Bayer took over the glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion and has been entangled in legal proceedings ever since. Around 113,000 of the 160,000 cases brought by alleged victims have been completed so far. The group has set aside provisions for this amounting to $16 billion. Bayer announced that it would appeal the latest ruling.

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