Boehringer: Pradaxa, Tradjenta launches face 'economic headwind'

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Family-owned Boehringer Ingelheim chalked up some gains during the first six months of this year. Sales grew 6.8% compared to the same period last year, but the company warned this doesn't mean the next six months will be smooth. “The economic headwind from the sovereign debt crisis in southern Europe and the continued weak economic growth in the USA make the business environment increasingly difficult for the pharmaceutical industry,” Andreas Barner, chairman of the board, said in a statement.

Barner said that austerity measures are particularly hard on research-driven pharma companies, and noted that tighter wallets have made some countries so skittish that some are “wondering whether they can introduce new medications under their reduced healthcare and national budgets, even if these medications are clearly superior to standard treatment.”

Barner said the economic and financial chill have particularly affected the launches of blood thinner Pradaxa and diabetes medication Tradjenta. The company is highly dependent on its prescription drugs, which accounted for close to $7 billion in sales for the first six months of this year, a jump of 8.7% compared to the same period last year. The company's best-selling drug, Spiriva for COPD, accounted for $2.2 billion of these sales, while the Micardis hypertension franchise brought in $1.2 billion in sales. Pradaxa had $617 million in sales for the first six months of the year.

The company said North and South America remain its hot markets, accounting for almost $4 billion in sales for the first half of 2012, a 9.5% jump compared to the sales for the same period last year.

Finance head Hubertus von Baumbach said in a statement that the company has been performing as expected, but also echoed Barner's caution, saying “sustaining the positive business development in the first half of 2012 over the next six months will be challenging.”
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