More MS news articles for June 2001

Schering to co-develop female incontinence ring

Friday June 15, 3:05 PM EDT
By Steven Silber

FRANKFURT, June 15 (Reuters) - German pharmaceuticals group Schering AG (SCHG)(SCHG) said on Friday it had obtained exclusive rights to take part in the development of a new intravaginal ring to treat incontinence in women.

Schering also raised its annual peak sales forecast for oral contraceptive Yasmin by 50 percent to 300 million euros ($259.7 million), another effort by the Berlin-based group to boost its fertility control and hormone therapy division.

The vaginal ring, releasing the drug oxybutynin, would be inserted once every 28 days by women suffering from urge incontinence, a sudden strong need to urinate usually caused by bladder contractions or nerve damage.

Such rings are soon to be offered for hormone replacement by firms such as Northern Irish specialty drug maker Galen Holdings Plc (GAL).

Schering, best known for its multiple sclerosis treatments as well as contraceptive pills, said in a statement the new ring was currently in Phase II development by U.S. firm Enhance Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Phase II trials examine the efficacy of a drug together with its safety and dosing. Phase III is the final stage of testing before marketing approval.


Submission of the ring for registration in the United States is planned for 2003. Schering spokesman Oliver Renner said the product had annual peak sales potential of 100 million euros ($86.36 million).

Yasmin, however, is expected to be a greater money spinner.

"We've changed our peak sales forecast. We are really courageous and have gone up to 300 (million euros)," management board member responsible for research and development Guenter Stock told Reuters in an interview.

"We are quite confident with our European introductions and in now going into the American market," he added.

The drug, which Schering started selling in the United States this month, also helps women fight weight-gain, acne and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Schering had previously forecast annual peak sales of 200 million euros for Yasmin some three years after its introduction.

Schering's stock, already up 32 percent from March 13's year low of 49.03 euros, ended down 0.70 percent at 64.80 euros compared with a 0.13 percent fall by the pan-European DJ Stoxx health index (SXDP). The DAX index dropped 1.92 percent.

Schering's top-selling drug last year in its fertility control and hormone therapy division was Diane, an anti-acne treatment with contraceptive benefits. It had sales of 200 million euros.

The Berlin-based firm said it would fund further development of the vaginal ring and collaborate in clinical development.

Renner declined to discuss financial details or a possible upfront payment by Schering, which he said would provide milestone and royalty payments should the development succeed.

Some 70 million people suffer from urge incontinence, he said.

Schering said the oral version of oxybutynin was currently the "gold standard" in drug therapies for sufferers of urge incontinence.

Drugs already exist for incontinence, a market which grew by 30 percent last year in the United States, where one in nearly five adults over 45 is affected.

Other types of incontinence include stress incontinence, caused during exercise, and overflow incontinence, a leaking full bladder caused by weak bladder muscles or a blocked urethra.

©2001 Reuters Limited