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Boehringer goes on PR offensive over Pradaxa report

Takes to social media to defend its position on the anticoagulant ahead of tonight's Channel 4 news report

Boehringer Ingelheim is preparing for heavy scrutiny over the position of its anticoagulant Pradaxa when a UK television news report on the drug airs this evening.

The report - which is thought to have been prompted by US litigation over Pradaxa (dabigatran) in the US - has sent the company into a public relations frenzy with a steady stream of tweets on its UK Twitter account in the last 24 hours defending the product.

"A two-year, 18,000 person trial does not constitute 'fast-tracking of approval'," reads one from @BoehringerUK. Another accuses Channel 4 and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) - which is involved in the report - of asking it to act in an unethical manner by requesting Boehringer "comment in public on a named patient in our trial".

  

Some examples of tweets posted by @BoehringerUK today

The content of the news report has yet to be publicly released, but Boehringer has been accused by lawyers in the US of cherry-picking data in the pivotal RE-LY study - which supported its approval to prevent stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) - to downplay the bleeding risks with the drug.

In May, the company agreed to pay $650m to settle some 4,000 outstanding lawsuits from people who claim to have been injured by the drug.

The FDA launched an inquiry into Pradaxa's safety earlier this year which concluded that - based on a review of 134,000 patients - Pradaxa has a "a favourable benefit to risk profile" and no changes to its labelling were warranted.

Boehringer's medical director Charles De Wet wrote on the company's website: "All blood thinning medicines, from aspirin to warfarin and the new generation of oral anticoagulants, can increase the risk of bleeding.

"However, clinical trials and regulatory assessments have shown that the benefits of our medicine outweigh the risks."

Pradaxa reached the market in 2010 and has been a big success for Boehringer, with sales growing quickly to reach $1.6bn in 2013 despite competition from other new anticoagulants such as Bayer/Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Pfizer/Bristol-Myers Squibb's Eliquis (apixaban).

23rd July 2014

From: Marketing, Regulatory, Healthcare

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