German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer AG posted a 44% plunge in first-quarter profit, hurt by its material-science division.

For the three-month period earnings were down to 425 million euro from 762 million euro in the year prior.

Sales fell 7.5% to 7.9 billion euro from 8.5 billion euro.

While Bayer's crop science division, which produces pesticides, and its pharmaceutical divisions, saw growth, there was slump in business in the material science division, which makes plastics and adhesives chemicals.

Bayer said sales in the health care segment rose 3% to 3.8 billion euro. Within the segment, the pharmaceutical business had a 4.8% increase in sales. However, consumer health care sales were flat at 1.3 billion euro, with sales of products such as aspirin flat as consumers pulled back on purchases of even basic household goods.

But the company said it's seeing the first sign in recovery as some demand is reappearing and expects "varied development" during the remainder of the year. Its crop-science and health-care divisions are expected to see some gains, while material science should stabilize.

Separately, Beyer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals ( ONXX) said on Monday that a Phase III skin-cancer trial of the drug Nexavar was stopped early as it was determined the study wouldn't meet the primary endpoint of improved overall survival among patients receiving the drug in combination with chemotherapy.

In February, Onyx said sales of Nexavar would be in the range of $850 million to $875 million in 2009 and more than $1 billion in 2010.

Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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