Boehringer Ingelheim is confident that it is well-equipped to succeed within the new NHS and expects to continue growing ahead of the market.

So says Zinta Krumins who has been appointed as managing director of its UK and Ireland operations. She began her career at Boehringer's Bracknell headquarters as market research manager in 1989 and has since held senior management roles around, notably in the Nordic countries and Turkey.

Speaking exclusively to PharmaTimes, she noted that since she left the UK 17 years ago, the company's values have not changed but the environment in which it operates certainly has. The NHS is undergoing major changes  as it looks to improve delivery of healthcare in times of financial austerity but Ms Krumins (pictured) feels her team is well-equiipped to meet these challenges.

She notes that over the last couple of years, her Boehringer colleagues in the UK have done a great job in aligning themselves to the different stakeholder structures within the new NHS. "Before it was fairly centrally run, now there is a lot more local governance which makes the organisation more flexible to provide information, education and work with joint partners within the sector", she says.

One of the key challenges facing innovative drugmakers like Boehringer is that uptake of new medicines, not only in the UK, has been slow. Ms Krumins told PharmaTimes that there is a need for "honest and open discussions with the people who are holding the purse-strings" and show them how using these breakthrough therapies will benefit them in the short, medium and long-term "in terms of overall budget management and patient care".

Boehringer has a number of new products set for launches in the next year or so, notably in the new territory of oncology with treatments such as Giotrif (afatinib) for lung cancer. Its blockbuster chronic obstructive pulmonary disease therapy Spiriva (tiotropium) is likely to be approved for asthma and these treatments, as well as products from the firm's diabetes alliance with Lilly, "highlight a positive future for the country," she said.

Ms Krumins noted that Boehringer's revenues are growing faster than the market and this should continue with the new launches. She added that while targets have been set, "I always ask for a little bit more", noting that Boehringer is number 10 in the UK market and "hopes to be moving up the rankings in the next couple of years".

Ms Krumins is one of a handful of women in top pharma posts in the UK but rather than focus on the gender issue, she is keen to promote diversity of all types. "If you are all the same, you tend to think the same",  she says, claiming that diversity can only strengthen the team. Interestingly, the new MD notes that of all the countries she has worked in, Turkey is the place which has most women in senior management.