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S-A's Lovenox loses out to J&J/ Bayer's rivaroxaban

Bayer and J&J's experimental blood thinner rivaroxaban leads to fewer clots and deaths in patients after hip surgery than sanofi-aventis' Lovenox

Germany-headquartered Bayer and US-based Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) experimental blood thinner rivaroxaban leads to fewer clots and deaths in patients after hip surgery than sanofi-aventis' (S-A) Lovenox (enoxaparin).

About 1.1 per cent of patients had serious blood clots or died on the Bayer and J&J pill, compared with 3.7 per cent of those taking S-A's injected medicine, Lovenox, according to research reported today at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology. Both drugs had similar rates of bleeding, a side effect of anti-clotting medications.

Rivaroxaban may enable J&J and Bayer to wrest market share from the injectable Lovenox, which was S-A's best-selling treatment in FY06, racking up USD 3.5bn. Bayer has asked EU regulators to allow sale of the drug under the brand name Xarelto in October 2007.

Bengt Eriksson, an orthopaedic surgeon at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the study's lead author, said: "The results were quite astonishing. It was a big surprise for the new drug to demonstrate superior effectiveness, instead of merely showing about equal effectiveness."

Patients were given either Lovenox or rivaroxaban for five weeks after hip-replacements. Studies of the J&J and Bayer drug in other major orthopaedic surgery will be presented at the ASH meeting on 10 December. 

Lloyd Haskell, a vice president at J&JPRD, was quoted as saying: "This drug was measured against Lovenox, which is the gold standard, and we got more efficacy without paying a price in terms of any extra bleeding."

If approved, rivaroxaban will be marketed by J&J in the US and by Bayer in the rest of the world. Bayer has projected peak sales of USD 2.9bn, while J&J has said it will seek US marketing approval in H2 2008.

9th December 2007

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