All posts by Prof. Klaus Dugi

Dealing with Change

JLXDNN5BNEAs the world’s largest family owned pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim has been committed to developing innovative medicines since 1885 and as the market has changed, so have we.

We have implemented models into our business that mean we are equipped to cope with the rapid changes in the external environment of the pharmaceutical industry in 2015 and for the years ahead. For example, we are reshaping the way we work with important NHS customers through Account Management – with the focus being on how we work together with them as partners. The well-structured change processes we have in place will help and support all employees to better understand BI culture, values and vision.

Part of that vision comes from what sets us apart from the rest of many other players in the industry. Our driving force is not to please the Square Mile or Wall Street but to fulfil our pledge to improve people’s lives across the globe.

Let me just highlight three projects that give a glimpse into how we are trying to make good on that pledge. Continue reading Dealing with Change

NICE and the Value of New Medicine

The great and good of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are today at their annual conference in Liverpool, so now feels like a good time to look at how the agency has developed since its launch in 1999 and its plans going forward.

NICE says its Health Technology Assessment (HTA) guidances and clinical guidelines help health and social care professionals deliver the best possible care based on the best available evidence and make the best use of their money in the NHS. However, the agency’s efforts to balance clinical and cost effectiveness and the methodology used in its HTAs regularly come under fire, especially by companies who have seen their treatments turned down for use on the National Health Service. One of the reasons for this is often that whilst NICE seek expert clinical and patient opinion, it can sometimes seem as if the patient’s voice is heard as a whisper compared to the weight of academic science taken in to consideration during the process. Continue reading NICE and the Value of New Medicine

Announcing: The ESC Grants for Medical Research Innovation


I am a clinical researcher at heart. And, for that reason, I love the opportunity of attending clinical conferences. They are an opportunity to hear the latest developments and innovations in patient care; discuss new data on compounds and medical devices / technology and meet friends and colleagues old and new.

Innovation is the lifeblood of pharmaceutical companies, and it is the driver of better patient care. It comes from all sources – academia, industry and governments. It can be incremental or ‘step-change’.

Today, we are in the middle of one of the world’s largest and most influential cardiovascular conference: the European Society of CardiologyESC Congress 2015

During medical congresses, experts from academia, often paired with scientists from pharmaceutical companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, present their data from clinical trials. It is a welcome public opportunity to share the data and have it challenged by peers.

This year will be special for us though. As I’ve mentioned before, Boehringer values partnerships. This year, we are supporting the ESC with an independent grant to launch an initiative geared towards encouraging researchers with innovative ideas to tackle thromboembolic diseases. At this congress the ESC will be launching the ‘ESC Grants for Medical Research Innovation’ programme that will offer four grants of up to 400,000 euros each to researchers through a unique and competitive process.

Continue reading Announcing: The ESC Grants for Medical Research Innovation

Diabetes: 3.2 million reasons to focus on patient care

On Monday this week you may have seen in the news that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has soared by 60%1 in the past decade. It was also mentioned that the spending on diabetes drugs has increased during that time and we can all appreciate that the financial resources available for paying for drugs in the UK are not limitless. It is important that money is spent on pharmaceutical clinical trials to assess safety, efficacy and more importantly the complications of diabetes which can be associated with substantial costs.

Barbara Young, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, said the government needed1 to act to prevent new cases and improve treatment for those already affected. She said: “Diabetes already costs the NHS nearly £10bn a year, and 80% of this is spent on managing avoidable complications.  So there is huge potential to save money and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services through providing better care to prevent people with diabetes from developing devastating and costly complications,” she added.

So the focus cannot be simply on the laboratory blood glucose values for a patient with diabetes but should be on providing treatments that reduce the risk of diabetes related complications.

In addition, pharmaceutical management should be on clinical guidelines that support an individualized approach to diabetes care.

Continue reading Diabetes: 3.2 million reasons to focus on patient care

Innovation Beyond the Pill or Innovation of a Pill

Pill Capsule --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Pill Capsule — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

In my first post, I talked about the topic of innovation and offerings ‘beyond the pill’. Today, I would like to share two pieces of news with you that I have very recently come across.

Innovation Beyond the Pill or Innovation of a Pill

Innovation beyond the pill is of high interest to many in the pharmaceutical and wider healthcare industry, but did you see the recent news on innovation of a pill? The US FDA approved, for the first time, a pill produced by 3D printing. The way I understand it, rather than having ink in a cartridge like the printer you may have at home, this 3D printing technique uses drug substance in a cartridge and produces a pill which is more porous than conventional ones. This pill dissolves more quickly on contact with liquid, making it easier to swallow. I consider this a truly patient-centric innovation!

Patient Centric Innovation

In this context, I also learned that researchers at the School of Pharmacy of University College London are working on a technique to 3D-print pills in different shapes, from pyramids to doughnuts, using a technique known as “hot melt extrusion”. While different shapes may be cute and interesting, there is of course a deeper intent behind this. Different shapes of pills can result in a different time pattern of release of drug substance in the gut which again may be applied to the benefit of patients.

What I also found interesting was an article in the current edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Innovation as Discipline, Not Fad” by David A. Asch and Roy Rosin. The authors describe techniques called “Vapor Test”, “Fake Front End”, and “Fake Back End” to explore in a more quick and dirty fashion whether novel and innovative approaches would be accepted by the community or not. I have asked my team to read the article and to brainstorm whether one or more of these techniques would be applicable to what we do in pharmaceutical industry and to explore whether we could apply this to the benefit of our customers and therefore ultimately also to our company. Perhaps, you find this article and the described techniques also to be of interest in your respective context. If so, do start a discussion in the comments section of this post – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The health care environment in the UK is rapidly changing, but I am optimistic that true innovation will continue to be rewarded!

Research is the Key to Innovation

Inhalation Drug Development
Inhalation Drug Development

Delivering Value Through Innovation

Innovation is a word that is used a lot – I just put the word in Google and got 399,000,000 results in 0.41 seconds – and it is applied to a whole range of things, from self-driving cars to plants that play music.

All very interesting, I’m sure, but what interests us at Boehringer Ingelheim is medical innovation, something that is not all that easy to define. Put simply, however, our innovative medicines are designed to help patients live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

Being a research-driven pharmaceutical company with a 130-year history, ‘value through innovation’ has been our vision for a long time and the treatments we have developed in our own laboratories show that this vision has become reality. The last 20 years have seen a host of medicines discovered and developed by Boehringer Ingelheim that have transformed a number of disease areas.

I myself feel privileged that I have had the chance to contribute to getting a number of these approved over the last 5.5 years.

Continue reading Research is the Key to Innovation