German drug maker Altana said Wednesday that its new anti-asthma drug, Alvesco, would be launched in Europe at the beginning of next year after receiving Europe-wide marketing approval for the treatment. The medicine’s approval in Britain in April served as a reference for Europe-wide distribution under the European Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP). "This important milestone within the European approval process will allow us to start the marketing of Alvesco in important European markets at the beginning of 2005," the head of Altana Pharma, Hans-Joachim Lohrisch said. Altana is counting on the launch of new blockbusters -- drugs with annual sales potential of around €1 billion ($1.33 billion) -- to make it less dependent on its best-selling stomach ulcer drug Pantoprazole, which accounts for around 40 percent of overall group sales. Despite the hopeful outlook, the drug maker has recently suffered setbacks in the planned launch of its two new asthma drugs, Roflumilast and Alvesco, in the United States, the world's biggest pharmaceuticals market.