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Bayer Posts $165 Million Q3 Loss

November 14, 2001

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ Drug and chemical maker Bayer AG said Wednesday it lost $165 million in the third quarter despite strong demand for its anti-anthrax drug Cipro, blaming a weak global economy and the withdrawal of cholesterol-lowering drug Lipobay after it was linked to patient deaths.

Increased demand for Cipro couldn’t compensate for the loss of Lipobay, the company said.

The loss of 183 million euros in the July-September period compares to a profit of 534 million euros in the same period a year ago.

Bayer was stung by the August withdrawal of Lipobay, marketed as Baycol in some countries, after the anti-cholesterol drug was linked to more than 50 deaths worldwide. It was Bayer’s No. 3 drug and was expected to earn some 800 million euros ($720 million) this year.

The company said it had an operating profit of 66 million euros ($59 million) in the quarter, before exceptional items such as the Lipobay withdrawal. Operating profit figures also exclude items such as interest and taxes.

Revenue fell to 6.93 billion euros ($6.24 billion) from 7.68 billion euros a year ago.

``We are simply unable to absorb the withdrawal in August of our cholesterol lowering drug Lipobay-Baycol and the severe downturn through the third quarter,″ chief executive Manfred Schneider said in a statement.

Schneider said demand for Cipro to combat anthrax had boosted the pharmaceutical division’s business, but didn’t say by how much.

Pharmaceutical analysts say Cipro will have a negligible affect on Bayer’s bottom line, since the U.S. patent runs out in December and the company stands to earn far less under a deal to sell the drug in bulk to the U.S. government than it would on normal sales to pharmacists. It has also donated four million tablets, the company said.

The Lipobay withdrawal raised the possibility that Leverkusen-based Bayer might sell its pharmaceuticals business to focus on polymers, agricultural products, and industrial chemicals _ a move the company has resisted. The company has previously said it would consider a joint venture with another firm.

Schneider on Tuesday reiterated the company’s intention to hang on to its drug business. ``Our goal is to create a leading health care company,″ he said in a statement.

The company reported a net profit for the first nine months of this year of 823 million euros ($741 million), down 48 percent from 1.57 billion euros a year ago.

Revenue was steady at 22.9 billion euros ($20.6 billion) for the nine-month period.

The company’s stock fell 0.43 percent on the news to 34.75 euros ($31.27) on the Frankfurt exchange.

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