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Boehringer pledges €11bn to fund R&D drive

Plans more external collaborations as it appears to reduce spending

Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim has said it plans to increase its emphasis on external collaborations as it earmarks €11bn ($11.8bn) to its R&D operations in the next five years.

The privately-held drugmaker intends to spend €5bn on preclinical R&D and has set aside €1.5bn for deals with external partners. 

Last year, Boehringer invested just below 20% of its €13.3bn net sales back into R&D - or around €2.6bn - so the €11bn commitment seems to be a reduction on its historical spending as it averages around €2.2bn a year. In 2013 it spent around €2.7bn on R&D.

Boehringer's chairman Andreas Barner said the company had launched 11 new products in 2014 and 2015 and insisted the new partnership-oriented approach "will enable us to continue our excellent track record of bringing therapeutic innovations with high value for patients to the market".

The company has just announced four alliances with academic institutions - Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Scripps Research Institute and Weill Cornell Medicine - as part of a shift in strategy further towards an 'open innovation' R&D model.

All four collaborations are focusing on research into inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, looking at new therapeutic targets as well as biomarkers that can be used to assess new treatments.

Meanwhile, there is further evidence of a more outward-looking approach for the company. In July, Boehringer signed an agreement with South Korea's Hanmi Pharmaceuticals to develop a third-generation epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeting drug for lung cancer, a potential follow-up to its Giotrif (afatinib) product. 

In addition, the company signed a deal with Circuit Therapeutics in August to find new treatments for psychiatric disorders and cardio-metabolic diseases using optogenetics, a technique that involves the control of neural activity with light.

The company also highlighted its established relationships with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) Consortium as part of its commitment to open innovation, as well as the 'crowdsourcing' approach taken when it formed a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease unit with the BioMed X Innovation Centre.

Michel Pairet, senior corporate vice president research and non-clinical development at Boehringer, said: "The new strategy will foster our external collaboration efforts by enabling us to be faster and more flexible.

"This is of essence for research beyond the borders of our current focus areas, where we explore emerging science, new indications and new technology to expand opportunities," he added.

Article by
Phil Taylor

17th November 2015

From: Research

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