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Bayer plans to scale back women’s health R&D

March 31, 2023
Life sciences

Ahead of a change in leadership at the top after the upcoming annual general meeting, in interviews with news agencies Bayer is dropping hints in dribbles about future plans for its healthcare business.

In the latest dribble, the German healthcare and agrochemicals giant told Reuters that in future its pharma pipeline will focus on cardiovascular disease, neurology, rare diseases and immunology, while de-emphasizing women’s health, a field it first focused on with the acquisition of the former women’s health specialist Schering in 2006.

Stefan Oelrich, head of the Pharmaceuticals division, said that while the Jasmin-branded oral contraceptives and the Mirena intrauterine device inherited from Schering will take a back seat in the company’s future corporate drugs strategy, Bayer is still committed to clinical-stage products, including elinzanetant to treat vasomotor symptoms during menopause. Here it projects peak sales of more than €1 billion.

The pharma chief pointed to recent acquisitions that will position Bayer to become a major player in cell and gene therapy.

In the nearly 20 years it has owned Schering franchise – which also had a significant position in oncology – Oelrich acknowledged that Bayer’s own research into therapeutics for women has not met expectations.

At the time, Schering was Bayer’s largest-ever acquisition. The then-integrated pharmaceuticals and chemicals group, at the urging of the Berlin-based pharma’s management, rode up from Leverkusen to the nation’s capital as a “white knight” to snatch the company from the jaws of Germany’s Merck, which was attempting a hostile takeover with a view to widening its own women’s health franchise.

As yet, Bayer has given no indication that it may seek to unload the franchise.

By: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist


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