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Bayer shares plunge after blood-thinning drug trial halted

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Bayer shares plunged to their lowest in a decade after the group halted a late-stage trial for a blood-thinning drug for heart disease that had failed to demonstrate efficacy.

The German company on Monday said its Oceanic trial studying asundexian to treat atrial fibrillation had shown “inferior efficacy” compared with the drug used as a control.

Over the weekend, Bayer also lost a key trial in the US relating to weedkiller Roundup, which it acquired when it bought Monsanto in 2018.

Shares plunged as much as 18 per cent, reaching lows not seen since 2008, but subsequently recovering some of the loss.

Bayer said it had stopped the asundexian trial on the recommendation of an independent committee monitoring the study. It said it would “further analyse the data to understand the outcome” and publish it. The company added that it would continue to study the drug in a separate trial for stroke patients.

Analysts at Barclays said they saw the failure as “a total surprise” and downgraded the stock.

The setback compounds the challenges facing chief executive Bill Anderson, who recently said the conglomerate’s performance was “not acceptable” as it struggled to revive its fortunes after the Monsanto deal.

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