Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim has turned in a pleasing performance for the first half of the year, with respectable sales growth driven by its respiratory drugs, new product launches, and US/emerging markets.

The company booked first-half sales of 7.1 billion euros, equating to currency adjusted growth of 6.8% compared with the year-ago period, as its respiratory tract medicines Spiriva (tiotropium) and Combivent (ipratropium and albuterol) turned in double-digit growth while results were further swelled by the introduction of the blood thinner Pradaxa (dabigatran) and diabetes drug Trajenta (linagliptin).

Prescription drugs - which Boehringer says is its most important area of business - grew 8.7% to 5.6 billion euros, as turnover of its biggest selling product, the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment Spiriva, came in at 1.8 billion euros.

The Micardis (telmisartan) group of medicines for hypertension generated sales of 969 million euros, while new kid on the block Pradaxa brought in revenues of around 500 million euros for the six-month period.

Elsewhere, sales in the OTC sector were €699 million, marking 1.3% growth in local currencies, while turnover from its animal health division fared better with growth of 7.8% to 527 million euros.

The company also confirmed that North and South America remain its strongest market, achieving growth of 9.5% to $3.3 billion.

Challenging times

Commenting on the results, Hubertus von Baumbach, member of the Board of Managing Directors responsible for Finance, said the company's operating result developed as expected, but he warned that "sustaining the positive business development in the first half of 2012 over the next six months will be challenging".

"The positive figures are snapshots in time and must not obscure our view of the changes taking place in our most important markets", added Prof. Andreas Barner, Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors. 

In addition to the sovereign debt crisis in southern Europe and the continued weak economic growth in the USA, it is becoming "increasingly difficult to access markets and establish new innovative treatments such as those that our company develops and offers", he said.

"The economic and financial crisis has left some countries wondering whether they can introduce new medications under their reduced healthcare and national budgets, even if these medications are clearly superior to standard treatments," he added, noting that Boehringer has already sensed this with the launch of its Pradaxa and Trajenta.