By Adria Calatayud

 

Bayer shares fell sharply after the company stopped a late-stage study for a cardiovascular drug early due to lack of efficacy and was ordered to pay $1.56 billion in a lawsuit relating to its Roundup weedkiller.

At 0928 GMT, shares in the German pharmaceutical-and-agricultural group traded 20% lower at EUR33.15, at levels last seen in 2009.

The news underscore the challenges Bayer's two largest businesses face as the company weighs options to overhaul its corporate structure. Chief Executive Bill Anderson earlier this month said a separation of either its crop-science or consumer-health divisions are among the options the company is looking at.

Bayer said late Sunday that it discontinued a phase 3 clinical trial to test investigational drug asundexian on prevention of stroke and systemic embolism for patients with atrial fibrillation, a cardiac rhythm disorder.

In January, Bayer projected that asundexian's peak sales could top 5 billion euros ($5.46 billion), making it the biggest among what the company called key growth drivers in its pharma portfolio.

Many analysts viewed the blood-thinner treatment as a drug candidate with blockbuster potential.

Bayer's pharmaceutical division is set to face significant challenges after the failure of the trial, given that asundexian was expected to help the business return to growth following the loss of exclusivity for blood-thinning medication Xarelto and eye drug Eylea, Barclays analysts said in a research note.

The decision to stop the trial was based on a recommendation by the independent data monitoring committee of the study after asundexian showed inferior efficacy relative to apixaban, which was the control arm of the trial, Bayer said.

Separately, Bayer was ordered to pay $1.56 billion on Friday after a Missouri court found in favor of plaintiffs who blamed its Roundup weedkiller for causing their cancers. This was the fourth decision in a row to go against the company, which had earlier achieved nine straight victories preceded by other losses over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Bayer maintains that Roundup and its main ingredient, glyphosate, is safe to use.

 

Write to Adria Calatayud at adria.calatayud@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 20, 2023 05:05 ET (10:05 GMT)

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