Boehringer Ingelheim revenue slide cushioned by Pradaxa sales jump

Pradaxa may not be leading the new-age anticoagulant market, but it's certainly leading Boehringer Ingelheim's growth efforts. The blockbuster med made significant gains in 2013 to help offset currency effects and keep operating income up in the face of dwindling sales, the company said Tuesday.

Sales of Pradaxa increased by nearly 9% in euro terms last year to hit €1.2 billion, according to Boehringer. That offset the sales drop for the company's pharma business--responsible for 77% of total net sales--to 4.3%. A weak U.S. dollar and Japanese yen dragged those sales down considerably, the company said.

With the U.S. and Japan being two of the drugmaker's key markets--those countries, along with Germany, accounted for around 60% of Boehringer's 2013 sales--Pradaxa will have to keep on performing if Boehringer wants to see any hint of growth this year.

"The market environment for innovative medicines is not going to get any easier in the current financial year," board chairman Andreas Barner said in a statement. "In view of this and the impact from the expiry of patents, we expect to achieve net sales for our company in 2014 that are comparable to those in the previous year."

Pradaxa will also have to keep on expanding if it hopes to reclaim its place atop the clot-fighting throne, a position currently held by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Xarelto. While Pradaxa may have had the first-to-market advantage, it's now playing catch-up to its rival med. Xarelto boasts 6 indications, allowing it to lead a pack rounded out by Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) so-far-underperforming entrant Eliquis.

Pradaxa has also been dogged by safety concerns as of late, with some accusing Boehringer of not adequately warning patients of bleeding risks. The company is fighting some 2,000 liability lawsuits, with U.S. courts scheduled to start hearing cases in August.

But in the meantime, Pradaxa's not out of the race, scoring an FDA nod just last week. U.S. regulators OK'd it to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients who have already been treated with an injectable anticoagulant, and to reduce the recurrence of DVT and PE in previously treated patients.

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