Boehringer Ingelheim has posted a 15.7% rise in sales to 6.39 billion euros for the first half of 2009, and is predicting the start of “a new period of growth” in 2011 after a stagnant 2010 due to patent expiries.

Prescription drug sales were up 17.3% to 5.10 billion euros, driven by Spiriva (tiotropium) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which brought in 1.18 billion euros, up 15%. The blood pressure drug Micardis (telmisartan)had sales of 709 million euros, an increase of 7.6%, while revenues from Flomax/Alna (tamsulosin) for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, also reached 709 million euros, up 27.2%.

Sales at Boehringer’s consumer health care unit grew 7.1% to 609 million euros, while its animal health business leapt 32.5% to 286 million euros.

The privately-owned group again expects full-year sales (in local currency) “to outpace the world pharma market for the tenth time in succession”, but next year is “likely to see virtually no significant growth”. This will be due to “important patent expiries”, most notably on Flomax in the USA, but in 2011 “a new period of growth will be heralded from new innovative medications”, Boehringer says, which already will be introduced in 2010, moves which will trigger “additional investments”.

The key product that will drive that growth is likely to be Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate), an oral direct thrombin inhibitor which was approved last year in Europe for the prevention of venous thromboembolic disorders following hip or knee replacement surgery. The drug has “developed very well in Europe and some other non-European countries”, but the big money will come if Pradaxa is approved in two other indications – prevention of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation and treatment of acute venous thrombosis.

The results of two major studies – RE-LY and RE-COVER – are due next month and in November, and Boehringer says that the former, the largest study worldwide in stroke prevention associated with atrial fibrillation, is of particular importance as it could lead to “the start of a new era in anticoagulant therapy after more than 50 years with no major progress”.

A little further down the pipeline, results from Phase III studies of flibanserin for hypoactive female sexual desire disorder will be released by the end of the year. In oncology, Phase III studies with Tovok, a tumour growth factor inhibitor, and the triple angiokinase inhibitor Vargatef for non-small-cell lung cancer are on track, Boehringer concludes, while a late-stage trial of the oral diabetes drug linagliptine is nearing completion.