Bayer to launch rival Viagra drug this year

The German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer said Friday it planned to launch its rival drug to Pfizer’s anti-impotence treatment Viagra in the United States in the second half of this year, following favourable comments about the drug by the US health authorities.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicated on Thursday it had not found any major side-effects from Bayer’s Levitra drug for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED).

That suggested that the drug was well on the way to being authorised for distribution in the US.

“We’re very happy with the results,” said Bayer representative Christina Sehnert.

Levitra, which is being co-promoted by British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, is already approved for marketing in Europe and a number of countries South and Central America, but is still awaiting the green light from the FDA in the US.

Investors were happy about the news and Bayer shares were showing a gain of 3,14 at 17,40 euros in morning trade in Frankfurt in a slightly firmer market.

Analysts said Bayer could generate sales of some 150-million euros from the drug already this year.

With projected peak annual sales of more than one billion euros, Bayer is hoping the new treatment will fill part of the gap left by the withdrawal of its disgraced anti-cholesterol drug Lipobay, which was withdrawn in the autumn of 2001 after it was believed to have caused the deaths of around 100 people. - Sapa-AFP

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