Bayer's pharma division thrives on innovation to address unmet needs in Asia - Pacific

By Phong Van   April 27, 2022 | 01:00 am PT
2021 marked the 10th consecutive year of growth of Bayer’s pharma division in the Asia Pacific.

Business in the region contributed to almost one-third of Bayer's global pharmaceutical sales. Key growth drivers also came from South Asia with India delivering a strong 11 percent growth and Pakistan with 2 percent, while the ASEAN cluster achieved 9 percent average growth across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

"We increased our efforts to focus on what matters most - delivering both innovative and essential medicines to patients in Asia-Pacific, despite the challenges from the pandemic. Our consistent strong growth in the region is a testament to our innovation-driven portfolio that delivers value to patients in areas of high unmet medical needs," newly appointed Head of Commercial Operations for Bayer's Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia-Pacific, Ying Chen, said.

Innovation in chronic diseases

Every year across the globe, 15 million people die before age 70 from chronic diseases that include cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. By 2050, one in four people in Asia-Pacific will be over 60 years old.

Along with ageing, the greatest cumulative impact on health comes from the striking rise in metabolic risks – namely high Body Mass Index (BMI), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – accounting for nearly 20 percent of total health loss worldwide in 2019. One in 10 adults worldwide is living with diabetes and out of those, almost half are undiagnosed.

The non-steroidal, selective mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist of Bayer has demonstrated positive kidney and cardiovascular (CV) outcomes in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Up to 40 percent of people living with diabetes have CKD, which increases the risk of renal failure/dialysis and CV outcomes.

Heart failure is the number one cause of death affecting more than 60 million people worldwide; 50 percent do not survive five years, and one in five patients will die in two years. Patients in Asia-Pacific have suffered from the worse outcomes with late presentation of symptoms and huge gaps in treatment for the past decade. The key is to optimize treatment of worsening heart failure early and prevent the next hospitalization.

Many traditional therapies work by inhibiting signaling pathways. The soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator of Bayer is a therapy that leads to improved myocardial and vascular function.

Reduce burden of cancer

The global cancer burden is expected to be 28.4 million cases in 2040, a 47 percent rise from 2020. Some cancers are caused by specific changes in genes and when a neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene joins with an unrelated gene, it is known as tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) fusion cancer. The cancer is not related to a certain type of tissue or the age of the patient; it can occur anywhere in the body, in both children and in adults.

Bayer's oral precision therapy TRK inhibitor has shown to be an effective treatment in children and adults with TRK fusion cancer. Only specific genomic tests can detect NTRK gene fusions, the underlying cause of TRK fusion cancer. By testing patients and finding out what is driving their cancer, doctors could target the root of the disease. With emerging research on TRK fusion cancer, we are one step closer to precision medicine, where tumor genetics, rather than where the tumor is in the body, help doctors select specific treatment approaches that could more likely benefit their patients.

Bayer is delivering better cancer care for patientswithbreakthrough innovations in diagnosis and treatment.

Bayer is delivering better cancer care for patientswithbreakthrough innovations in diagnosis and treatment. Photo by Bayer

Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed malignancy in men worldwide. In 2020, an estimated 1.4 million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 375,000 died from the disease worldwide. Bayer's nonsteroidal androgen receptor antagonist is an oral androgen receptor inhibitor (ARi) that binds to the receptor with high affinity and exhibits strong antagonistic activity, thereby inhibiting the receptor function and the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Clinical trials

Bayer is continuing to build a strong pharmaceuticals development pipeline, advancing around 50 projects in Phase I to III of clinical development. Among these projects, many have the potential to treat various types of cancers, diabetic kidney disease, and chronic heart failure that represent areas of high medical needs for the region's ageing population. Asia-Pacific is strongly represented in Bayer’s clinical development activities with 46 ongoing clinical trials conducted in the region throughout 2020 and 2021, over half of these in the area of oncology.

"We have approximately a quarter of patients from Asia-Pacific represented and enrolled in three key global development trial programs for Bayer’s new breakthrough innovations: for worsening heart failure, chronic kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes, NTRK fusion cancer and for various stages of prostate cancer. With today’s digital and decentralized model, participation in trials is more accessible and convenient remotely, allowing us to generate meaningful data to monitor and improve patient outcomes," said Dr Catherine Donovan, head of Medical Affairs, for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia-Pacific.

Dr Catherine Donovan, Head of Medical Affairs, for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia/Pacific.

Dr Catherine Donovan, head of Medical Affairs, for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia/Pacific. Screenshot photo

Collaborate to cure

Bayer is fostering collaborations with external partners for accelerating innovation in the development of new medicines. With the support of Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) since 2007, Bayer continues to expand its collaboration activities in the Asia/Pacific region and has already invested $19 million in projects with Singapore institutions to advance clinical and translation research in cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

At its recent Breakthrough Innovation Forum, Bayer announced that it will accelerate investments by its impact investment arm Leaps by Bayer with more than €1.3 billion in funding over the next three years.

"As recovery from the pandemic begins to take shape, the company is working with healthcare professionals across the Asia-Pacific region to transform patient health through science for a better life. Innovation is our company's lifeblood and so are partnerships and integrating patient care. Putting more resources on the frontlines to educate, detect and treat conditions early before they become more serious can lead to improved health outcomes and reduced healthcare spending," Donovan said.

Commitment to sustainable health

For more than 50 years, Bayer has been supporting education programs and rights-based family planning in more than 130 countries, particularly by providing access to modern forms of contraception, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – reaching seven million women in Asia Pacific in 2021.

With its expertise in women’s healthcare, the company has committed to provide 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to family planning by 2030.

Bayer consistently runs local support programs in the Asia-Pacific region to educate and support women living with hormonal disorders, like endometriosis – a painful disorder affecting 10 percent of women of reproductive age worldwide – many of whom do not seek early diagnosis and treatment due to various misconceptions. Many women are also affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that usually develops in a woman’s late teens in which the ovaries produce high amounts of androgens (male sex hormones) that are usually present in women only in small amounts.

"Forging ahead with our leadership in women’s healthcare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals is supporting women across Asia/Pacific not only with their family planning needs but also through various stages of their reproductive lifecycles. We are committed to patient programs to shift the treatment paradigm from traditional illness-based and hospital-bound to more sustainable patient-centered preventive care," said Ying Chen.

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