Bayer is rolling-out its new therapy vericiguat, Verquvo, which helps reduce hospitalization and mortality in patients with worsening heart failure.

The once-a-day drug is being launched in line with the rest of the world, and is priced at an India-specific price of ₹127 per pill, which is about 1/15 th the global price, Manoj Saxena, MD, Bayer Zydus Pharma told Business Line.

India is estimated to have a crore people with heart failure, occurring in patients that are a decade younger than their Western counterparts. Despite the substantially younger age of patients, three out of five Indian patients will die within five years of diagnosis, company officials said.

About the product

Vericiguat is a soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator, indicated with standard care in adults with symptomatic chronic heart failure. The drug works on a pathway not currently targeted by existing heart failure treatments and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure hospitalization, added Dr Ashish Gawde, Country Medical Director.

Chronic heart failure occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood as well as it should. Thickening of arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack, infections, or rheumatic heart disease make the heart muscle weak or stiff, so it cannot pump blood effectively, the officials explained. The heart failure segment is estimated to be about ₹20,000 crore, while worsening heart failure is about ₹1200 crore. 

Commercial rights and FDA approval

Interestingly, Bayer and Merck have a worldwide collaboration in the field of sGC modulators. The vericiguat program is being co-developed by Bayer and Merck. Merck has the commercial rights to vericiguat in the US and Bayer has exclusive commercial rights in the rest of world.

Bayer received approval of vericiguat in India based on results of its Phase III VICTORIA trial, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March 2020. The drug is not given to pregnant women. Vericiguat was approved for use by the US FDA in January 2021, and by the European Commission in July 2021.

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