In this photo taken July 6, 2009 worker Roland Ulbrich presents an Aspirin pill made for Italy at the pharmaceutical plant of the Bayer Bitterfeld company in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, eastern Germany.  Germany's Bayer AG says it plans to buy U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc.'s consumer care business, whose products include the Coppertone suncare range, Claritin allergy medicine and the Dr. Scholl's footcare products, for US$ 14.2 billion. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)
 (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)

Ben Hirschler and Ludwig Burger, REUTERS

(REUTERS) — Bayer will move a heart failure drug into final-stage testing this year, boosting its ambitions in cardiovascular treatments after the experimental medicine showed a “striking” reduction in deaths in a mid-stage trial.

Having done well with recently launched drugs such as stroke prevention pill Xarelto and eye treatment Eylea, the German company is eager to show it has another potential billion-dollar-plus winner in heart drug finerenone.

Finerenone, which is still several years from reaching the market, is an improved version of a troublesome class of heart drugs called mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (MRAs).

Existing MRAs spironolactone and eplerenone, branded as Inspra by Pfizer, are unsuitable for many patients since they can cause abnormally high levels of potassium in the blood, leading to irregular heart beat or even cardiac arrest.

The two older medicines, whose patents have expired, are also linked to kidney problems.



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