Bayer's blood thinner also effective for artery disease

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer's best-selling blood-thinning drug Xarelto has also proved effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes in patients suffering from certain types of artery disease, the company said on Wednesday.

The drug is approved to prevent strokes in patients with irregular heart beats and clots, among other uses, but to widen its use Bayer has been testing Xarelto on patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) or peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The trial involving 27,402 patients was due to end in early 2018 but Xarelto proved so effective it has been halted.

Independent safety monitors ruled that the drug's efficacy had been so evident, control patients in the trial who were only receiving aspirin should also be given Xarelto.

A complete data analysis is expected to be presented at an upcoming medical meeting in 2017, Bayer said.

Xarelto, in which Johnson & Johnson owns some rights, is approved for uses including prevention of strokes caused by atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heart beat common among the elderly.

According to Bayer, the drug could potentially be used on 30 million patients with CAD and PAD, in addition to the roughly 25 million patients it sees in the atrial fibrillation market.

The company, which is buying seeds maker Monsanto, raised its annual peak sales potential estimate for the drug last year to more than 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion).

The pill generated 2.1 billion euros in sales for Bayer during the first nine months of 2016, up more than 30 percent from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by David Clarke)

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