Bayer commits $700M to boost manufacturing for new hemophilia drugs

Bayer HealthCare CEO Olivier Brandicourt

Bayer is gambling $700 million on the ultimate success of its new hemophilia drugs now in Phase III testing. That's about how much Bayer's growing healthcare division plans to spend as it boosts its manufacturing capacity at two sites in Germany.

Bayer currently makes the hemophilia A drug Kogenate in California, but the company says it needs to expand its facilities in anticipation of adding blockbuster products to the pipeline. Investigators have been reporting progress with the plasma protein-free rFVIII (BAY 81-8973) and a long-acting rFVIII (BAY 94-9027).

Bayer noted a few weeks ago that 94-9027 met its goal in the PROTECT VIII Phase III study, protecting hemophiliacs from uncontrolled bleeding with an administration every 7 days. Investigators highlighted the fact that current therapeutic standards require an infusion every two or three days.

Bayer isn't the only company at work in hemophilia. As FiercePharma recently reported, Biogen Idec ($BIIB) plans to take its case for a new hemophilia B drug to the FDA in a matter of months, with some analysts pegging future sales at $2 billion a year. Novo Nordisk ($NVO) plans to head to regulators next year with the hemophilia B drug N9-GP, while Baxter won an FDA OK for Rixubis last summer.

Bayer has been steadily ratcheting up the amount of money it invests in R&D. The pharma company plans to spend about $5 billion a year on research in each of the next three years. And it's clearly prepared to back it up on the manufacturing side.

"This investment will be one of the largest in the history of Bayer HealthCare and reflects our strong commitment in the field of hemophilia A," said Dr. Olivier Brandicourt, CEO of Bayer HealthCare. As part of this investment Bayer HealthCare will create about 500 new jobs at its sites in Leverkusen and Wuppertal by the year 2020.

- here's the release