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Boehringer returns to growth in first half

German firm back on track after a tough sales period

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Boehringer Ingelheim has started to see the glimmerings of a recovery after a difficult couple of years thanks to solid growth in its diabetes franchise.

The first half of 2015 saw currency-adjusted group sales rise by around 2% to €7.4bn - reversing declines that extended through 2013 and 2014 - while its pharma division managed a 1% increase to reach €5.4bn thanks to higher sales of its Trajenta (linagliptin) franchise. The flattering effect of the weak euro meant reported group sales rose 13%.

Trajenta and combination product Jentadueto (linagliptin and metformin) climbed 22% to €419m in the six-month period, although this growth rate is well below the same period of 2014 when it was climbing more than 60% and likely reflect increased competition in the diabetes market.

DPP-4 inhibitor Trajenta competes head-to-head with a number of other drugs in the class, including Novo Nordisk's which also grew 22% to reach 8.4bn Danish krone (€1.1bn) in the first half of the year.

Boehringer's chairman Andreas Barner said the company - alongside its peers in the industry - continues to face challenges "as a result of the fast-changing US market and the tougher competition from generics in Japan."

The company is in the throes of a restructuring exercise to boost its profitability and last month announced the sale of its US generics unit to Jordan's Hikma for $2.6bn, having previously sold its injectable generic firm Bedford Labs to the same company for $300m.

The company is looking to its pipeline to accelerate growth, and chalked up a number of recent successes including the marketing application for idarucizumab, a reversal agent for its anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran), and the approval of lung cancer therapy Giotrif (afatinib).

Meanwhile, its diabetes franchise - which Barner said would be "one of the main growth drivers in this business in the years to come" - has been bolstered by EU approval for Synjardy (empagliflozin and metformin) and US approval for Glyxambi (empagliflozin and linagliptin).

The company's top-selling drug Spiriva (tiotropium) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) achieved sales of €1.76bn - up from €1.62bn in the same period of 2014 - and was recently joined on the market by combination follow-up Spiolto (tiotropium and olodaterol).

Privately-owned Boehringer did not give any details about sales of Pradaxa, however, which is facing strong competition in the novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) market from Pfizer's Eliquis (apixaban) and Bayer/Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto (rivaroxaban), as well as Daiichi Sankyo's new entrant Lixiana/Savaysa (edoxaban).

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th August 2015

From: Sales

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