Augusto Muench
CEO
Boehringer Ingelheim Mexico, Central America and Caribbean
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View from the Top

Boehringer Ingelheim’s Bet on Innovation Drives Mexican Efforts

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 10/05/2020 - 17:23

Q: How does the company’s approach to innovation benefit Mexican patients?

A: Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the most important pharmaceutical companies in Mexico and this comes with many challenges. We have two important manufacturing plants in the country, one in Mexico City and the other one in Guadalajara, Jalisco. This installed production and exporting capacity has led our country to be classified as one of the strategic locations for the company.

Boehringer Ingelheim has two main business lines in Mexico: human and animal health. Our cardiometabolic division is significantly relevant in the country due to the high prevalence of diabetes, arterial hypertension, thrombosis and heart failure. Our products, beyond focusing on the generality of a disease, are meant to benefit patients with unsolved health needs. Over the past 10 years, the company has launched three groups of compounds to treat cardiovascular diseases. We have recently received the results of our product SGLT2 inhibitor, which showed potential to reduce deaths related to heart failure on patients with and without diabetes. This allows the product to reach many more patients as it will have a positive effect regardless of the patient’s pre-existing condition. We are pursuing the medical indication and approval in Mexico because it is highly relevant for the local population.

Boehringer Ingelheim’s mission is focused on adding value through innovation. We are a research-based company where each new chemical or biological compound has taken the task to make the world a healthier place.

Q: How is your patient-centric approach reflected in the company’s R&D and product pipelines?

A: Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the Top 5 companies that has been recognized with the “PatientView” award for our approach to the patient during research and clinical trials to develop products that truly meet their needs in a more effective and safer way. Boehringer Ingelheim will even change the original plans for its trial to best adapt it to our patients’ needs and lives. In Mexico, particularly, we have established four work principles: open communication, internally and externally; compliance to operate transparently; learning from change to grow in an ever-changing environment; and patient centricity.

Once we have any product available, it is our priority to introduce it to every country where we operate. If Mexico takes part of the clinical trials, there would already be medical centers familiar with our product as will the country’s regulatory entities, clearly benefiting patients immediately.

Q: What does Mexico represent to Boehringer Ingelheim’s global operations?

A: Mexico’s manufacturing center is one of our most important globally. The country’s proximity to the US offers an advantage as 60 percent of production is exported there. Last year, Boehringer Ingelheim approved a MX$1.6 billion (US$76.1 million) investment in our human health plant and MX$100 million (US$4.7 million) in our animal health plant. This demonstrates the commitment of the company to Mexico as a long-term strategic manufacturing hub. We centralize in our lines more than 50 percent of the cardio-metabolic products needed in Mexico. In the future, we hope that the Mexican population’s demand for these products can be fully met by the country’s local production capacity.  Apart from the US, our animal health plant mainly exports to the Middle East, Asia and South America.

Mexico’s role has been specifically relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boehringer Ingelheim never stopped its production plants as we are an essential industry. We worked along our collaborators to avoid any disruption to the supply chain. Moreover, we wanted to ensured that our collaborators kept their jobs and regular payment.

Q: How important is Mexico for Boehringer Ingelheim's R&D efforts?

A: Last year, 18 percent of our net sales were directed to this area. In Mexico, we collaborated with 51 clinical research centers focused on Phase 3 developments. These centers, aside from focusing on cardiometabolic diseases, also targeted their efforts in respiratory therapy to strengthen our compounds for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. For this type of research, we established close relations with Mexican health institutes like INER.

In Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim has been evaluating a new type of PCR test, which is based in recollecting samples for COVID-19 using a chewable element that may be used in existing diagnostic machines which detect the virus and skip the common swabbing method that is being currently used. We have approached INER to introduce this new type of PCR test.

Q: How did Boehringer Ingelheim react to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: We established three priorities to maintain business continuity. The first is to ensure our collaborator’s and their families health; we have adapted to working from home, follow strict sanitary protocols at our plants and constantly work on keeping a close relation with each collaborator. The second one was to avoid supply chain disruptions. At the beginning of the pandemic, the global supply chain faced container problems in China as the outbreak first hit that country. That was the first red light that made us plan how to avoid affecting chronically ill patients who depend on our medications.

The third priority was being a leader and supporting efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. We approached foundations like Cántaro Azul in Chiapas, which transformed a jam factory into a gel sanitizer production plant. In order to ensure that isolated zones which lacked water access could have an alternative to sanitization. That way, we brought supplies for the plant and bought the final product to be donated to hospitals and other organizations that needed it. This project also provided more than 1,800 collaborators with protection equipment kits working inside and outside the plant.

Boehringer Ingelheim joined global efforts towards finding  treatment of cure with its extensive library of molecules. The company decided to collaborate with different organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, by providing our compound information to determine which products could be useful to face the SARS-CoV-2 virus. To date, we are still testing compounds as possible COVID-19 treatments. 

 

The Boehringer Ingelheim Group is among the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with 175 subsidiaries. The family-owned company focuses on R&D, manufacturing and commercialization of new medications

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst