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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Boehringer Ingelheim steps up R&D efforts and partnerships despite challenging year

Health Industry Hub | March 25, 2021 |

Pharma News: Boehringer Ingelheim stepped up its investments in R&D significantly in pursuit of innovative medicines and therapies for diseases for which no satisfactory treatments are available.

In particular, efforts to research potential COVID-19 related therapies were accelerated in 2020. The company spent 3.7 billion EUR on R&D, 7% more than in the previous year. This represents the highest annual investment in R&D in the 136-year history of the research-driven biopharmaceutical company.

“We started our R&D for potential COVID-19 therapies early in the first quarter of 2020, recognising the urgent need,” said Hubertus von Baumbach, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors. “Together with many partners worldwide, this work is ongoing.”

“We are looking for such partnerships not only in the fight against cancer, but also on a field that is about to become the next global health threat – antimicrobial resistance, or AMR. Newer molecules are only used as last resort and to slow down resistance building, a scientifically prudent and sound approach. It forms a last line of defence. However, this leads to the unfortunate situation that research into innovative active substances is not financially viable. This is why start-up companies fail to raise enough funds for their clinical development. And we urgently need new answers. The last new antibiotic was brought to market 14 years ago.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is therefore contributing $50 million to the AMR Action Fund – a fund with more than $1.1 billion that we launched last summer together with 20 other research-based drug companies and several foundations, including the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation. In this way, we want to create incentives for at least two, and preferably four, new antibiotics to come onto the market by 2030,” added Mr Baumbach.

Wes Cook, Managing Director, Boehringer Ingelheim Australia and New Zealand commented on the local business “The year 2020 was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia and New Zealand, our focus remained on the health and wellbeing of our employees, while we also quickly pivoted to deliver information, education and services to support the quality use of medicines via digital platforms.

“Working closely with our global supply chain colleagues, the company worked tirelessly to find innovative solutions to ensure uninterrupted access to life-saving and life-changing medicines for Australian and New Zealand patients and clinical trial participants, all in the context of an incredibly challenging environment with local and international border closures.

“As a result of these efforts to secure supply, Boehringer Ingelheim Australia and New Zealand performed well in 2020 across both the Human Pharmaceutical and Animal Health businesses. This performance enabled the company to provide additional financial support to our long-term community partner, The Smith Family to deliver digital packs for Learning for Life students as they transitioned to home learning. The company also provided a $50,000 donation to Food Bank Australia to support communities in need.

“Globally, Boehringer Ingelheim employees were provided 10 additional volunteer days to directly assist communities impacted by COVID-19. In Australia and New Zealand, our people enthusiastically took up the opportunity to share their time and skills to volunteer in a broad range of organisations, for example piloting digital engagement programs for the elderly who were isolated, and delivering food and essential items to members of at-risk communities,” he added.

Building on its vast knowledge in various therapeutic areas, such as respiratory diseases and virology, Boehringer Ingelheim is engaged in several projects aimed at finding medical solutions to treat COVID-19. In December 2020, the company announced together with Cologne University Hospital, the University of Marburg, and the German Centre for Infection Research the initiation of Phase I/IIa clinical investigation of BI 767551, the first SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody administrated via inhalation as a potential new therapeutic and prophylactic option to block the virus at the site of infection.

Regarding M&A, in December, the company announced the acquisition of NBE-Therapeutics, a clinical-stage Swiss biotechnology company focused on antibody-drug conjugates and advancing targeted cancer therapies derived from its immune stimulatory iADC platform. This acquisition adds to Boehringer Ingelheim’s focus on patients with difficult-to-treat solid tumours.

“Looking forward in 2021, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will continue to pose challenges for the global industry environment, therefore we expect slight year-on-year growth on a comparable basis,” concluded Mr Cook.


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