Bayer is giving its blockbuster blood thinner Xarelto partial credit for its 2016 drug sales logging a 9 percent year-over-year increase to nearly $17.35 billion. The drug company added that it expects pharmaceutical sales in 2017 to surpass the $18 million mark.
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann announced the drug division “achieved substantial sales and earnings increases,” and gave credit for it’s strongest growing products including Xarelto, chemo drug Eylea, hypertension treatment Adempas, and cancer drugs Xofigo and Stivarga. So confident in the performance of these drugs, Bayer raised its combined annual peak sales potential from shy of $8 billion to more than $10.5 billion.
Last year, Xarelto’s revenues were more than $ 3 billion – nearly one-third over 2015 sales. In the U.S., Xarelto is marketed by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The blood thinner is used to prevent strokes in patients with the common heart rhythm abnormality atrial fibrillation. It is also used to treat and prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, and to prevent blood clots in patients who have recently undergone hip or knee replacement surgery.
But the success of Xarelto may soon hit a roadblock. Bayer and Janssen currently face more than 10,000 lawsuits alleging they did not adequately warn of Xarelto side effects. At issue are life threatening bleeding risks such as gastrointestinal bleeds and brain hemorrhages. Those suing the drug companies also claim that the drug should not have been marketed without an antidote that could reverse the bleeding effects of the drug in the event of a bleeding emergency.
The first bellwether to be tried in the Xarelto MDL is scheduled for March 3 and involves the case of Joseph J. Boudreaux Jr., who took Xarelto to treat atrial fibrillation and suffered from a gastrointestinal bleed.