Boehringer Ingelheim said sales dipped fractionally to €7.1 billion in the first half of 2013, saying the global market in prescription medicines is "stagnating".

The privately-held drugmaker's chairman, Andreas Barner, said that currency adjusted sales rose a little over 3%, but suffered from " continuous cost pressure in healthcare systems, and not only in Europe".

Sales of prescription medicines rose 3.5% to €5.3bn, with upward momentum coming from oral anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran), recently-launched Trajenta (linagliptin) for type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) therapy Spiriva (tiotropium).

Spiriva continued its reign at the top of Boehringer's product portfolio with sales of €1.83 billion, although growth slowed to a little under 4% and is likely to come under further pressure as a raft of new COPD drugs from the likes of Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline start to enter the market.

Pradaxa posted net sales of €612 million in the first six months of the year, a rise of 28%, as it continues to gain momentum for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and the prevention of venous thromboembolism after knee and hip operations.

The anticoagulant is proving remarkably resistant to competition from Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Eliquis (apixaban) which has struggled to make headway in the market since its approval last year.

Trajenta has also got off to a good start, according to Boehringer, which noted that the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor pulled in €200 million in the first half.

Trajenta was launched in its first markets at the end of 2011, but is still not available in Germany following the decision by the national heath technology assessment agency AMNOG that it conferred no benefit over earlier therapies and did not warrant premium pricing.

Barner said Boehringer is hiking its spend on R&D - currently running at around 22.5% of sales - and is also investing in an upgrade of manufacturing and quality processes, a measure prompted in part by recent compliance issues at its site in Ingelheim.

The company is also gearing up for the introduction of afatinib for lung cancer, a potential blockbuster which was approved in the US under the Gilotrif brand name in July and should be launched in its first markets "within the next few months", according to Barner.