BI targets top-five spot and larger India presence in trials

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on March 25, 2021

Clinical studies on Covid-19 therapies on the radar

Boehringer Ingelheim is looking to break into the top five bracket of multinationals in the country, even as it works to increase India’s participation in global clinical trials, said Vani Manja, the recently-appointed India head of the German biopharmaceutical company.

Manja was hopeful of greater representation from the country in terms of clinical research, and this included in studies on its Covid-19 related products. But it was early days yet, indicated Manja, who took over the reins at BI in January 2021.

A key point of global interest involves BI 767551, reportedly the first SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody administered through inhalation, a potential new therapeutic and preventive option to block the virus at the site of infection.

Neutralising antibodies are immune molecules that attach themselves to viruses and incapacitate them, thus providing immediate protection, BI explained.

A company representative added that late stage studies for the inhaled neutralising antibody are being planned at the global level, and there are active discussions ongoing around the inclusion of patients in India.

“India has been a key country for such clinical development in Covid-related treatment targets looking at disease burden in India and the need to support patients, however the research is still in early stages and it would be difficult to predict which compounds would finally make it to final stages of clinical development,” the representative added.

Record research spends

The privately-held German company has in 2020, witnessed record global spending on research and development (R&D) in its 136-year history, the company said, announcing its results yesterday. It spent €3.7 billion on R&D — seven per cent more than the previous year, BI said, adding that it included accelerated efforts towards researching Covid-19 related therapies.

In December 2020, BI along with Cologne University Hospital, the University of Marburg, and the German Center for Infection Research, had announced the initiation of Phase I/IIa clinical investigation of BI 767551,

But there have been setbacks as well, with BI announcing earlier this month, the discontinuance of the Phase II trial of BI 764198, another novel compound that aimed to reduce the risk or severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome in patients hospitalized for COVID-19 and requiring non-invasive oxygen support.

India roadmap

Outlining the road ahead for India, Manja said they were looking to being among the top five multinationals in the country. And towards this, they were building on existing areas of interest including diabetes (in the patented non-insulin segment), cardiovascular, stroke and respiratory segments, through partnerships. It is presently among the top 10 MNCs.

The company’s human pharma business includes products like Pradaxa (to prevent clots), Trajenta (diabetes), Actilyse (stroke), Giotrif (Xovoltib - non-small cell lung cancer ) Ofev (Cyendiv -lung-related therapy), Glyxambi (diabetes) and Jardiance (diabetes). Its animal health business includes products for companion animals and poultry, that included vaccines and other medicines.

Globally, the segment showed a strong growth last year. BI’s global net sales was €19.57 billion , a 3 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

Published on March 25, 2021

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