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Boehringer's sales drop after 'intense and challenging' year

US operations hit hard by healthcare reforms and insurance consolidation

Boehringer Ingelheim headquarters 

Boehringer Ingelheim's sales fell by 5.3% to €13.3bn last year, driven down by tough operating conditions in the US.

Sales there dropped by nearly 10% to €5.9bn, while European sales were down by 2% to €4.1bn and those from Asia, Australia and Africa dipped by just over 1% to €3.3bn.

US healthcare reforms, the severe spending cuts that followed and consolidation within the US insurance industry produced what the company said was an “intense and challenging” year.

The US remains Boehringer's biggest market, accounting for €4.6bn of sales compared to the €912m generated in the company's home of Germany, but its recent stateside performance led to cutbacks last year.

During 2014 Boehringer reduced its US workforce by just over 1,000 positions, though it recruited over 850 people in Europe and expanded its Asia, Australia and Africa operations slightly.

The company's top management gave little away at a press conference for its annual results in its Ingelheim, Germany headquarters yesterday, remaining tight-lipped when it came to the finer details about its newer products.

Andreas Barner, chairman of the board of managing directors, said: “After a challenging 2014, the focus for us is now on launching numerous additional new products and on our profitability.

“We were able to submit a large number of compounds for marketing authorisation in 2014 and, with research and development expenditure amounting to just close to €2.7bn, we have invested once again in the future.”

During the year all four of Boehringer's top products saw their global sales decline, most noticeably cardiovascular drug Micardis (telmisartan) and COPD treatment Combivent (ipratropium and albuterol), both of which recently went off-patent and whose sales fell by 21%.

The firm's biggest seller, COPD drug Spiriva (tiotropium) brought in €3.2bn for the period, but was down 9% on its 2013 performance.

Regarding Spiriva competition, Barner commented that it is impossible to predict when generics will emerge on the market, but noted that the patent on its ingredients is likely to expire “in a few years”.

Boehringer's second biggest hitter - anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran) was down 1% to €1.1bn, but the company has high hopes that its idarucizumab reversal agent, submitted in the first quarter of this year for European and US approval, will bolster its fortunes.

Allan Hillgrove, corporate board division pharma marketing and sales, said he was optimistic that Pradaxa sales would grow, and added newer products such as diabetes drug Jardiance (empagliflozin) will compensate for the loss of sales from 

However, when asked about the likelihood of growth for Spiriva for the next year he responded, “I doubt it”.

Looking to its performance this year Boehringer said challenges in the US and from generics would “continue to occupy us in 2015”.

It added: "As a result of changing conditions in Boehringer Ingelheim's major markets, further upheavals can be expected."

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

23rd April 2015

From: Sales

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