Monday, November 05, 2007

Bayer's Betaferon Doesn't Work Better at Higher Dose (Update3)

By Eva von Schaper

Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Bayer AG, Germany's largest drugmaker, will take a 152 million-euro ($219 million) charge after dropping plans to market a higher dose of its Betaferon multiple sclerosis treatment.

A study found the 500-microgram dose wasn't more effective at preventing patients' relapses than the 250-microgram form or Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.'s Copaxone, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer said in an e-mailed statement today.

Betaferon is one of the products Bayer needs for growth as it waits for income from newer medicines such as the cancer treatment Nexavar. Bayer gained Betaferon, also sold as Betaseron, in its 17 billion-euro purchase of German rival Schering AG.

``The standard Betaferon 250-microgram dose is the optimal Betaferon dose,'' Douglas Goodin, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, said in the statement.

Bayer today said it expects revenue from Betaferon, which had first-half sales of 500 million euros, to rise between 7 and 9 percent this year and next. Bayer said it won't ask regulators to allow the higher dose version of the drug to go on sale.

The third-quarter charge will cover the writedown of assets from the study, dubbed BEYOND, as part of the Schering purchase, Bayer said.

Bayer shares fell 49 cents, or 0.8 percent, to 57.79 euros in Frankfurt. They've risen 42 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eva von Schaper in Munich at .

Last Updated: October 29, 2007 12:44 EDT