Bayer pours $100M into Bay Area R&D with eyes on hemophilia

German drugmaker Bayer is investing $100 million in its Berkeley, CA, R&D outpost, blueprinting a new testing facility to support its work developing new treatments for hemophilia.

The new quality-control center will be part of Bayer's existing biotech hub in the Bay Area, sitting alongside the company's biologics manufacturing operation in Berkeley and research base in San Francisco. Bayer's not adding any new jobs in the two-year project, a spokeswoman said. But the company, which bills itself as the area's third largest biotech employer, said the new facility will set the stage for growth in its hemophilia franchise.

Bayer's banner hemophilia A treatment, Kogenate, brings in more than $1.1 billion each year, and the company is at work on a slew of next-generation therapies in the field. The drugmaker's latest investment comes about a year after Bayer unveiled a $700 million initiative to build new hemophilia-focused manufacturing operations in Germany, betting its in-development treatments will make their way to market.

Thanks to the promise of more convenient--and likely costlier--injections, analysts expect the hemophilia market to reach above $11 billion by 2016, and Bayer is dialing up its budget in the field in hopes of playing a lead role in treating the disease.

Leading Bayer's hemophilia pipeline is BAY 81-8973, an FDA-submitted upgrade to Kogenate that can be produced without the need for any human or animal components, according to the company. Like its predecessor, the new injection treats hemophilia A by replacing a key coagulation protein called factor VIII, helping patients' blood to clot normally and reducing the dangerous bleeds that characterize the disease.

Bayer is also working through Phase III on BAY 94-9027, a long-acting factor VIII replacement therapy that can be dosed as infrequently as once a week. And, beyond protein replacement, the company's hemophilia branch is working on early-stage antibody treatments and a gene therapy program alongside Fierce 15 luminary Dimension Therapeutics.

- read the statement