Bayer, the German multinational pharmaceutical company, experienced a severe setback as its shares plummeted to the lowest level in over a decade according to a report by the Financial Times. This drop followed the company’s decision to abandon a crucial late-stage trial of its blood-thinning drug, asundexian, used in treating atrial fibrillation. The trial results revealed “inferior efficacy” compared to the standard treatment. Analysts considered this move a major setback for Bayer, as asundexian was deemed the most promising drug in its pharmaceutical pipeline.
The pharmaceutical unit of Bayer, already grappling with patent expirations on some of its top-selling drugs, had high hopes for asundexian, estimating potential annual sales of up to €5 billion. However, the trial’s failure has raised concerns about sustainable growth in Bayer’s pharma unit. The setback came on the heels of another blow for Bayer, as it lost a significant legal case in the US related to the weed killer Roundup, acquired through its purchase of Monsanto in 2016.
Bayer shares fell as much as 20% in morning trading, marking their largest-ever drop and reaching lows not seen since 2008. The company’s market value suffered a loss of over €7.5 billion within hours. Analysts at Barclays described the trial failure as a “total surprise” and subsequently downgraded the stock.
Bayer, which has already paid over $10 billion to settle claims related to Roundup, announced its intention to appeal against recent court verdicts, accusing plaintiffs of misrepresenting regulatory and scientific support for their products. The company has undergone leadership changes, with former Roche executive Bill Anderson taking over as CEO. Anderson has expressed a commitment to exploring all options for Bayer, including potentially splitting the pharma unit from the crop sciences business.
These challenges compound Bayer’s struggles since its €63 billion takeover of Monsanto, which led to increased debt and ongoing legal battles. The latest developments further underscore the difficulties faced by Anderson in steering the conglomerate toward a path of recovery and improved performance.