Bayer says struggling to find patients for precision cancer drug Vitrakvi

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the facade of the historical headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer said it is finding it hard to identify cases of the rare tumour types that qualify for treatment with Vitrakvi, a precision cancer drug which it hopes will improve prospects of its drugs division.

“We continue to struggle in identifying those patients and during the COVID crisis this has not necessarily improved ... Maybe it is sometimes a little too sophisticated for physicians to diagnose patients appropriately. This is something that we are working on,” the head of the pharmaceuticals division, Stefan Oelrich, told analysts in a call after the release of second-quarter results.

Vitrakvi - designed to tackle tumors based on a rare genetic mutation regardless of where in the body the disease started - has since last year won approvals in the United States, Europe, Brazil and Canada.

Bayer has said it expected annual peak sales of more than 750 million euros ($880 million) from the drug, which competes with Roche’s Rozlytrek, but commercial success depends on the uptake of gene-sequencing tools.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Tom Sims