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Boehringer Ingelheim returns to growth after US turnaround

But expects only a minor sales increase during a transitional 2016

Boehringer Ingelheim Professor Andreas Barner 
Prof Andreas Barner at Boehringer's annual press conference in Germany

Boehringer Ingelheim made a return to growth last year after sales rose 11% to €14.8bn, largely thanks to a strong showing by its core prescription drug business in the US.

Rx sales in the Americas leapt 17.9% to €5.6bn, with the US accounting for 86% of this, and the region continues to be a vital market for Boehringer, generating half of its prescription drug sales.

The turnaround follows a 2014 that was, by its own admission, 'intense and challenging' and during which sales fell more that 5% as it felt the bite of difficult conditions in the US.

Chief among these were US healthcare reforms, the severe spending cuts that followed and consolidation within the US insurance industry, but the pressure appears to have eased considerably in 2015.

There were also solid gains last year for some of Boehringer's key products, with its respiratory drug - and top-seller - Spiriva (tiotropium) up 9.8% to €3.6bn.

Meanwhile, its second-biggest seller the novel oral anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran) rose 7.4% to €1.3bn, boosted by US approval in October for its antidote Praxbind (idarumcizumab)

Boehringer's heart drug Micardis (telmisartan) continued to suffer the effects of generic competition, with sales down 12.1% to €956m, but 2015 also saw the company's diabetes portfolio making good ground.

Sales of DPP-4 inhibitor Trajenta (linagliptin) and its Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin) combination rose 42.9% to €909m. The company will not publish separate sales figures for Trajenta and Jentadueto until next year, but said 2015's performance was “mainly motivated by Trajenta”.

Unveiling the results at Boehringer's annual conference in Ingelheim, Germany yesterday outgoing chairman of the board of managing directors Professor Andreas Barner said 2015 had been a successful year for the firm.

“We can see that we recorded more submissions, approvals and product launches in 2015 than ever before in our history,” he said, pointing to positive regulatory decisions on Praxbind, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment Ofev, Spiolto Respimat in COPD and Spiriva Respimat for asthma.

“At the same time, we in 2015 took the key strategic course to maintain competitiveness and sustainable business development in the future too,” Prof Barner added.

These strategic decisions will see Boehringer exit the generics business and hand its consumer health interests to Sanofi in return for the French pharma firm's animal health arm Merial. Contracts for this asset swap are due to be signed by June 30 and the deal finalised by the end of this year.

Further internal changes are also in the offing at Boehringer. From July its R&D operations, led by Dr Michel Pairet, will be renamed the 'Innovation Unit' and tasked with all stages of development up to clinical proof-of-concept.

Meanwhile, the 'Prescription Medicines Business Unit' led by Allan Hillgrove will take on responsibility for the subsequent 'highly market-oriented development' of products.

Overseeing these strategic manoeuvres will be Hubertus von Baumbach, who takes over from Prof Barner on July 1. 

Commenting on the company's prospects for 2016 von Baumbach said a “minor increase in net sales” was expected, adding: “The fruits of our labour in the coming months will enable us to considerably strengthen our market position in many areas in the medium term.

“We are convinced that we will achieve our ambitious targets with our innovative strength, our well-filled pipeline and on the basis of our strategic decisions and investment planning.”

Article by
Dominic Tyer

20th April 2016

From: Sales

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