- New Data Could Add $1.5 Billion To Sales Of Johnson & Johnson Blood Thinner
New data could lead doctors to use Johnson & Johnson and Bayer’s blood thinner Xarelto to prevent heart attacks in some patients, leading to a significant sales boost. In a note to investors earlier this month, Credit Suisse analyst Divan Vamil predicted that a successful result could increase sales of the drug by $1.5 billion in the U.S. alone.
Well, the results are a success, although they come with the same trade-off as any use of a blood thinner: more bleeding. In results published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented in Barcelona at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, the combination of a low dose of Xarelto and aspirin cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, cut the risk of heart attacks by 14%, strokes by 42%, and death by 18%. Forty-one out of every 1,000 people who took the Xarelto-and-aspirin combo would be expected to have a heart attack, stroke, or heart-related death compared to 54 among those who got aspirin alone.
The fact that Xarelto reduced the risk of overall deaths, not just heart attacks or strokes, should convince many doctors to use it. But the study looked only at a very specific group: patients who are at high risk of a heart attack or stroke, but who shouldn’t be getting a different class of clot-preventing drugs that includes the generic clopidogrel, Effient, from Eli Lilly, or Brilinta, from AstraZeneca. Patients who have recently had a heart attack, especially those who were treated by having a heart artery propped open with a metal stent, usually get these medicines for at least several months. But the 27,395-person trial specifically recruited patients who didn’t need these other drugs, and whose disease was stable.
One big opportunity for J&J and Bayer could come from a group that represented only a quarter of the patients in the study: those who’ve come to the hospital because of blood clots in their legs, known as peripheral artery disease. These are caused by artery disease, much like heart attacks and strokes.
Bleeding occurred in three patients out of every hundred in the Xarelto plus aspirin arm of the trial, a 70% increase compared to aspirin alone, although there was no difference in the number of major or fatal bleeding episodes. Peter DiBattiste, J&J’s global head of cardiovascular R&D, says that J&J plans to file with the U.S. Food And Drug Administration for approval for the new use, including the approval of a new, 2.5-milligram dose, by the end of the year.