Boehringer Ingelheim says it overcame “major challenges” in the first half of 2014 which saw sales fall 7.9% to around 6.5 billion euros.

The decline was due principally to the effects of currency and price reductions in the USA. Prescription medicines sales were down 5.4% (currency adjusted) to 4.79 billion euros, driven again by its blockbuster chronic obstructive pulmonary disease therapy Spiriva (tiotropium), bringing in 1.62 billion euros.

Trajenta (linagliptin) for type 2 diabetes, which BI is not launching in Germany (after regulators there decided the therapy did not warrant premium pricing) climbed over 63% to over 300 million euros (currency adjusted). The greatest growth was achieved by its new lung cancer, Giotrif (afatinib).

However, privately-owned BI did not give any details about sales of its anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran), the subject of a $650 million payment to settle 4,000 lawsuits in the USA in May. Chairman Andreas Barner said that “we can now concentrate all our efforts on the development and launch of new medicines and on the expansion of our biopharmaceutical business”.

Earlier this month, BI bagged US approvals for two products - the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Striverdi (olodaterol) and the diabetes therapy Jardiance (empagliflozin). The pipeline is looking healthy and Boehringer hopes to launch more than ten new products in the next two years, notably nintedanib for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the leukaemia drug volasertib and a biosimilar of Sanofi's diabetes blockbuster Lantus (insulin glargine).

BI says it has “responded to the changing market situation and declining net sales by introducing measures designed to reduce costs” and it now expects a currency-adjusted decline in net sales in the lower single-digit range for the full year compared with last year.