10/23/2012 04:30 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2012

Riociguat: Drug Successfully Eases CTEPH, High Blood Pressure In Lungs Condition

FRANKFURT, Oct 23 (Reuters) - German drugmaker Bayer said its experimental riociguat pill could become the first treatment option for some patients suffering from a life-threatening form of high blood pressure in the lungs.

Riociguat showed promise in a late-stage drug trial for use against CTEPH, a type of high pressure in the lungs' arteries due to clots that have clogged up other blood vessels in the organ, Bayer said on Tuesday.

For some of these patients complex surgery can provide relief but there are no drugs on the market to stop the progressively worsening disease that can lead to heart failure.

Bayer earlier this week said the riociguat pill was shown to also help against PAH, another form of pulmonary high blood pressure which can be treated with drugs from Actelion and Gilead.

Bayer declined to give a sales estimate for its product but analysts on average saw 2017 sales from riociguat of $480 million before this week's news, according to Thomson Reuters Pharma.

As part of the CTEPH trial, doctors measured how far 261 participants could walk in six minutes before and after 16 weeks of either three-times-daily riociguat or a placebo pill.

Patients on riociguat walked 46 metres further on average than the initial 330-350 metres, while the control group did not improve, Bayer said. Riociguat was also shown to lead to better cardiovascular readings and to slow the progression of CTEPH.

The results are being presented at this week's annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) in Atlanta.

Bayer plans to file for marketing approval of riociguat in the United States, the European Union and Japan simultaneously in the first half of next year with a market launch possible in mid-2014.

While PAH affects about 30,000 people in the United States, Japan and Europe's largest markets, a further 20,000 people in these countries suffer from CTEPH, according to Bayer. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Frank Siebelt; Editing by Mark Potter)