In the first half of 2019, the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim achieved further progress in research and development. In developing medicines, new approaches, and therapies, the company focuses primarily on diseases for which no satisfactory treatment option exists to date.
Boehringer Ingelheim is currently working on about 90 development projects in human pharmaceuticals, of which 71 percent have therapeutic breakthrough potential and 63 percent the potential to be first substance in a new class of active ingredient. R&D investments remain high and at around the same levels as in the 2018 financial year.
“For all of us at Boehringer Ingelheim, it is key that what we do every day makes a significant contribution to improving the health of humans and animals. In 2019, we again invested extensively in R&D across all divisions and will continue to do so,”
explained Hubertus von Baumbach, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors.
Research into familiar active pharmaceutical ingredients remains a priority at Boehringer Ingelheim. Among other things, the company focuses on empagliflozin, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in type 2 diabetes medicine JARDIANCE®. Boehringer Ingelheim examines the effect of the substance on heart failure symptoms in people with chronic heart failure with and without type 2 diabetes. In this indication, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation.
In addition, the impact of empagliflozin on heart and kidney diseases in patients with chronic kidney disease with and without type 2 diabetes is the subject of a study. Boehringer Ingelheim submitted an application for approval to the FDA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the medicine OFEV® (active pharmaceutical ingredient nintedanib), which is approved for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The medicine is to be used in the future to treat interstitial lung diseases in patients with systemic sclerosis. This is a rare disease for which no approved treatment option exists to date. For the fourth quarter, Boehringer Ingelheim expects study data for other progressive fibrotic interstitial lung diseases.
Boehringer Ingelheim has also invested in the further development of the RESPIMAT® inhaler. The new reusable RESPIMAT® has been on the German market since April, further European countries will follow in the course of the year. With ARTI-CELL® Forte, Boehringer Ingelheim introduced the first stem cell-based animal health product onto the market in Europe. ARTI-CELL® Forte is used to treat lameness in horses.
External partnerships strengthen innovation
Partnerships and alliances to further strengthen the research pipeline remain a key element of the corporate strategy: Boehringer Ingelheim thus agreed to cooperate with the South Korean pharmaceutical company Yuhan Corporation in the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The collaboration and licensing agreement focuses on the therapy of the three main causes of this disease: steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis.
In mid-July, Boehringer Ingelheim announced the acquisition of all shares in the Swiss biotech company AMAL Therapeutics. AMAL focuses on cancer immunotherapy and is developing innovative therapeutic cancer vaccines. The main vaccine produced by AMAL, ATP128, is currently being developed to treat stage IV colorectal carcinomas (colon cancer). The acquisition is an important step in bolstering Boehringer Ingelheim’s leading position in the research of innovative immuno-oncological cancer therapies.
Numerous digital health projects
Boehringer Ingelheim also continues to invest in the digitization of the healthcare sector. Digital technologies open up new opportunities and improve the treatment, prevention and early detection of diseases. An international team of neuroscientists and IT experts at Boehringer Ingelheim is currently working on calculating the individual risk of schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease over an app that uses voice recognition. Another digital health project being carried out by Boehringer Ingelheim is SoundTalks, an audio monitoring system for the early detection of respiratory diseases in swine. This is currently being tested in livestock farming.
Positive business development
The generally favorable development is also reflected in the financial figures: Boehringer Ingelheim continued the positive trend from 2018 in the first half of 2019. From January to June, the company generated total net sales of around 9.3 billion euros. Adjusted for currency effects, this gives year-on-year growth of 4.6 percent (2018: 8.6 billion euros). Above all, the largest business area, human pharmaceuticals, contributed to robust organic growth. Net sales in the animal health business area were down slightly due to the outbreak of African swine fever in Asia. The results in biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing were adversely impacted by unfavorable phase effects.
“We are pleased with our half-year result. Boehringer Ingelheim is growing organically in a sustainable and stable manner,”
said von Baumbach.
With human pharmaceuticals, Boehringer Ingelheim’s largest business, the company achieved net sales of 6.8 billion euros in the first half of the year (2018: 6.1 billion euros). The main growth driver is the diabetes portfolio with the type 2 diabetes medicine family. Thus, net sales generated by JARDIANCE® increased by a currency-adjusted 44.8 percent to approximately 1 billion euros. Boehringer Ingelheim markets its diabetes medicines together with Eli Lilly and Company. In the respiratory medicine portfolio, net sales of OFEV® for the treatment of idiopathic lung fibrosis rose by 21.6 percent to 677 million euros on a currency-adjusted basis.
In the first half of 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim generated net sales of around 2.1 billion euros in the animal health business area (2018: 2.1 billion euros). Adjusted for currency effects, this results in a year-on-year decrease of 1.7 percent. The antiparasitic medicine NEXGARD®, which rose by 13.8 percent to 395 million euros on a currency-adjusted basis, was the best-selling product. Vaccines for livestock were strongly influenced by the African swine fever outbreak in China and Southeast Asia, where millions of pigs are being culled to halt the disease. Accordingly, net sales of the swine vaccine INGELVAC CIRCOFLEX® declined by 23.3 percent to 117 million euros on a currency-adjusted basis. Despite the current challenges, the region also remains an important growth market in animal health for Boehringer Ingelheim.
Net sales in biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing were below the previous year’s level, resulting in net sales of 273 million euros in the first half of 2019 (2018: 298 million euros). The decrease is mainly attributable to unfavourable phase effects. The focus is on expanding production capacities in Europe, the USA, and Asia, because the significance of biopharmaceutical medicines continues to grow worldwide.
In the first half of 2019, business conditions remained good across all regions. This also goes for the Japanese market, where Boehringer Ingelheim is now once again expanding following a decline in revenues in recent years.
Overall, Boehringer Ingelheim continues to expect slight growth in net sales on a comparable basis for the current financial year.