Roche, Boehringer tout new idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis analyses to boost their rival medications

Roche and BI's IPF meds racked up $788 million and $684 million in 2016 sales, respectively.

The idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) market-share battle between Roche’s Esbriet (pirfenidone) and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev (nintedanib) hasn’t let up since the FDA green-lighted the medications in October 2014. And this week, both drugmakers upped the ante with positive new data for their contenders.

At the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting, Roche rolled out new analyses of phase 3 data showing that Esbriet, when compared with placebo, could cut the risk of death by 72% among patients with more serious lung function impairment, reduce patient-reported breathlessness among sufferers with moderate impairment and decrease the rate of respiratory-related hospitalizations among patients.

The findings are important ones for the Swiss drugmaker, which said (PDF) in its 2016 annual report that its Esbriet sales had continued to expand “mostly due to increasing use in people with moderate and progressive disease.”

Competitor Boehringer, though, had good news to report from new analyses of it own. Pooled phase 3 data showed that Ofev patients were, at 36.8%, twice as likely as those on placebo to experience an improvement—or experience no decline—in lung function, the German pharma said. Results also showed that Ofev didn’t increase the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events among high-risk patients when compared with placebo.

Both drugmakers are looking for an edge in what so far has proved to be a competitive market race. In 2016, Esbriet posted $768 CHF ($788 million) in worldwide sales, with Ofev registering €613 ($684 million). And both medications are still expanding at a healthy clip—Esbriet grew by 34% last year, while Ofev sales leaped by 70.9%.

Boehringer, though, wants to see that growth continue outside of IPF, which it said affects about 3 million people worldwide. It’s currently trialing nintedanib in patients with systemic sclerosis, and it already boasts European Commission and FDA orphan drug status in that indication.