Pradaxa hits blockbuster mark, swelling Boehringer sales

Boehringer Ingelheim is riding a sales surge. The German company expects "high single digit" growth in revenues for 2012 and another leap in 2013. That's after 2011 sales came in 5% higher, at €13.2 billion ($17.4 billion)--and profits rose 66%.

What's fueling all this growth? The respiratory treatment Spiriva, for one; its sales grew 13% to €3.2 billion ($4.23 billion). Next in line was Micardis, the hypertension drug, which garnered sales of €1.8 billion, or $2.38 billion.

And then there's Pradaxa. The anti-coagulant, one of a new generation of rivals to the old standby treatment warfarin, achieved €629 million for the year, or $831 million. But since then, the drug has taken another hop forward: Boehringer says Pradaxa graduated to blockbuster status for the 12-month period ending in February.

These products, plus the combination treatment Combivent, "showed very gratifying growth," board member Hubertus von Baumbach said in a statement. "The launch of Pradaxa is among the most successful market introductions in the pharmaceutical industry in the past few years."

Perhaps. Pradaxa did make it to market first, before other warfarin alternatives from Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) (Eliquis) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Bayer ($BAYRY) (Xarelto). That first-to-market advantage has certainly helped it gain early sales. But recent safety questions may end up favoring the latecomers, particularly Eliquis, which could well end up with a more favorable label. Eliquis is expected to win FDA approval for stroke prevention later this year.

- read the release from Boehringer
- see the Dow Jones story