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The key focus for Boehringer Ingelheim India is diabetes, stroke, oncology and respiratory

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Dr Michel Pairet, Member of the Board of Managing Directors, Innovation Unit, Boehringer Ingelheim, discloses about the company’s strategic plans for both, global and the Indian markets, in an exclusive interaction with Sanjiv Das

At the annual press conference in Ingelheim, several investments in China were announced. What is BI’s strategy when it comes to investing in India?
In 2017, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) in India invested 125,000 euros in property, plant and equipment. BI India has a focused strategy of bringing its innovation based research molecules to India to address evolving needs of the patients. Co-marketing partnerships have also played a major
role in strengthening our presence and reaching a larger target audience.

The key focus for Boehringer Ingelheim India is diabetes, stroke, oncology and respiratory. Our launches over the last few years are Pradaxa (dabigatran for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation) and Trajenta (linagliptin in diabetes) in 2012, Trajenta Duo (FDC of linagliptin and metformin) in 2014, followed by the launch of Xovoltib (afatinib) for NSCLC and co-marketing agreement with Lupin for the launch of 2nd brand of linagliptin and linagliptin-metformin under the brand names Ondero and Ondero Met respectively in 2015.

In 2016, we launched Jardiance (empagliflozin) in diabetes and had a strategic partnership with Lupin for the 2nd brand of empagliflozin, under the brand name Gibtulio. In 2017, Boehringer Ingelheim India entered the respiratory space with the launch of Cyendiv (nintedanib) for IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis). This year saw the launch of FDCs Jardiance Met (empagliflozin-metformin) and Glyxambi (empagliflozin-linagliptin) as well as the expansion of our collaboration with Lupin for co-marketing of two oral anti-diabetic drugs Gibtulio Met (empagliflozin – metformin) and Ajaduo (empagliflozin- Linagliptin).

BI has a robust pipeline for the future and we are enthusiastic about the introduction of the same over the next 10 years. Currently, we are evaluating the product pipeline for India, with a focus on our Human Pharmaceuticals and Animal Health verticals. BI India is currently evaluating introduction of its global products. A number of products will be in the specialty areas such as oncology.

What are the global pharma trends that BI is looking to tap?
At BI, we are driven by the desire to serve mankind by improving human and animal health. Aiming to make significant contributions to healthcare, we focus on diseases, which have so far not been satisfactorily treated. We innovate to make breakthrough therapies and life-enhancing improvements available to patients. The company continues to be successful because it excels in innovation and delivers the highest quality. Therefore, BI constantly monitors global trends and pioneers in several future-oriented fields. This striving for innovation is deeply rooted in the company’s DNA.

Two examples

  • Open collaboration approaches in research: In research, the company relies on open cooperation on selected substances. The principle is ‘learning by sharing’. On the BBI web portal the company has for some months made selected and well-characterised molecules available to scientists worldwide in order to give impetus to scientific innovations.
  • Digital projects for patients and physicians:
    BI is well aware of the potential of digital innovations that start to transform the healthcare industry. Therefore, the company develops digital solutions to support patients and physicians, i.e. the smart stethoscope: It transmits the patient’s lung sounds to a mobile phone with cloud support. An algorithm analyses the lung sounds and is able to identify the corresponding pathological changes in breathing sounds. The doctor immediately gets feedback and can take further diagnostic and therapeutic actions.

BI recently established the BI X digital laboratory. Tell us more about it and the impact it seeks to create.
With BI X as an independent subsidiary, BI focuses on breakthrough innovative digital solutions in healthcare from idea to pilot. The
start-up works closely together with all three business units of the company – Human Pharmaceuticals, Animal Health and Biopharmaceuticals. It provides a platform for collaborating with specialists in the field of data science, agile software development and user experience design. BI X develops prototypes for new products and solutions and tests them together with the company’s business units in pilot phases. The business units then use the successfully developed new products and solutions themselves and brings them to the market. This approach is to ensure that knowledge and experience accrued at BI X are being quickly integrated into the digital lab’s parent house. An example: Together with our Animal Health Unit, our BI X colleagues are currently refining an app, PetPro Connect, for pet parents. It enables a digital connection to the veterinarian. Users can access different online services that will help to strengthen the relationship with their veterinarians. Another plus of the app: simplification of the rebate submission process for pet owners on their smartphone. In the near future, pet parents could access all their information on medications, vaccinations and appointments with the veterinarian. The first users are currently testing the app in the US.

Tell us about your research pipeline?
In research and development, BI focuses on its key therapeutic areas, which are cardiometabolic, respiratory, CNS, oncology and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Beyond this, we are constantly exploring emerging new disease areas, such as infectious diseases and hearing loss, new therapeutic modalities, like gene therapy, the microbiome, regenerative medicine, as well as new technology platforms to address the so-called ‘undruggable’ mechanisms or digital health approaches.

By 2025, BI is lining-up candidates for:

  • 15 new medicines, to be potentially approved (probability-adjusted), and many clinical phase transitions, stemming from our clinical and preclinical pipeline of currently around 80 projects.
  • 65 per cent of these projects have first-in-class and/or breakthrough potential and we will continuously renew our development pipeline with innovative drug candidates, based on our internal research and growing network of external partners.

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