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Boehringer grows, but warns of 'challenging' times coming

Sales up 7 per cent thanks to strong showing from respiratory and diabetes drugs

Boehringer Ingelheim headquarters

Boehringer Ingelheim posted a 6.8 per cent hike in sales in the first half of the year to €7.1bn on the back of strong growth for its respiratory and diabetes drugs, but cautioned that tougher times lie ahead.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) drugs Spiriva (tiotropium) and Combivent (ipratropium and albuterol) led the charge, with double-digit sales increases, while revenues were also lifted by sales of newer products such as Trajenta (linagliptin) for diabetes and anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate).

Growth came mainly from the US and emerging markets as Boehringer's EU operations were impacted by "the economic headwind from the sovereign debt crisis in southern Europe", according to group chairman Andreas Barner.

"The economic and financial crisis has left some countries wondering whether they can introduce new medications under their reduced healthcare and national budgets, even if these medications are clearly superior to standard treatments," he said, adding that Boehringer is facing this scenario with Pradaxa and Trajenta.

Overall, Boehringer's pharmaceutical operations grew 8.7 per cent to €5.6bn, with the division's biggest-selling product Spiriva contributing €1.8bn of that total in the first half and the well-established Micardis (telmisartan) cardiovascular drug franchise adding another €969m.

Pradaxa debuted in 2010 and has quickly grown to near-blockbuster status on the back of becoming the first drug to be approved for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation in decades. First-half sales are on track at €500m, despite slower-than-hoped take-up in some European markets.

Boehringer's over-the-counter medicines business posted low growth, up by little over 1 per cent to €699m, while its animal health division grew around 8 per cent to €527m. 

But for the company as a whole, finance chief Hubertus von Baumbach warned that the latter half of 2012 may paint a different picture as "sustaining the positive business development in the first half of 2012 over the next six months will be challenging".

16th August 2012

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