MD Boehringer Ingelheim
Keeping the world in fine fettle is no easy task, but someone’s got to do it. Luckily Boehringer Ingelheim has Martin Beck as the managing director of its Human Pharma Germany business to call on as it strives to create ground-breaking medicines to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.
Boehringer Ingelheim is driven by one goal: to improve the health of humans and animals alike. Since being founded by Albert Boehringer in Germany in 1885, the pharmaceutical company has become one of the biggest in the world and continues to better countless lives with its selfless ambition. Headquartered in Ingelheim, it operates globally with 176 affiliates and has some 50,000 employees on its books. One thing that sets it apart from the industry is that it’s family-owned, so Boehringer Ingelheim has benefitted from unparalleled commitment, trust, and leadership from day one. MD Martin Beck has been part of the company’s clear vision over the last two decades – he started out as a scholarship student 17 years ago before rising to the top. Despite his impressive tenure, he looks as fresh as the day he first walked in through the door (sadly Boehringer Ingelheim hasn’t found a way to reverse aging …yet). One of Martin’s tasks is to make sure his team continues to pioneer cutting-edge treatments for an array of diseases and illnesses from diabetes to stroke prevention.
“Serving mankind is at the heart of what we do here at Boehringer Ingelheim,” Martin says.
“We’re 100% focused on patients and determined to improve the health of millions of people around the world. To do this we are driven by innovation and research.”
Preparing today for tomorrow
Since becoming MD at the beginning of 2019, Martin has worked tirelessly to build on an already successful strategy. He speaks of agility, accountability, and intrapreneurship feeding creativity in medicine and engaging with customers in novel ways. Countless people rely on the medicines the company produces, which as you can imagine means a tonne of responsibility rests on Martin’sshoulders. Luckily, he’s well versed in keeping a cool head.
“We think long-term and have a plan set out. We have many clinical and pre-clinical projects in the pipeline in different therapeutic areas, like oncology and immunology, as well as cardiometabolic and respiratory diseases,” he explains. “We are driving this research further and currently looking at 90 preclinical and clinical pipeline projects. We use this term because nothing is certain in this line of research. We want to bring value through innovation – our goal is to approve 15 new drugs
with an adjusted probability by 2025.”
Bringing products to market can be a real challenge in the pharma game. There are so many stages of clinical research and testing that need to be passed before a new medicine is approved by international governing bodies. To release a particular drug worldwide means meeting all of the different standards in each country, but Martin says no mountain is too tall.
“For us it’s really about driving a customer-focused mindset and we have great products in our hands. We are inspired to improve these products and make them available to people,” he explains. “The company is preparing today for tomorrow, we’re operating in a research-driven business, there are always cycles of products coming in and products going out, we are juggling many balls at once!”
Boehringer Ingelheim’s drugs really set it apart from the competition. For example, Spiriva is the most prescribed medicine in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Jardiance is another example – it’s used to treat type 2 diabetes and won the 2018 Prix Galien International Award
for Best Pharmaceutical Product. The accolade marks the first time a pharma product for diabetes has shown survival benefits for patients. Another milestone was achieved with the launch of Pradaxa, the first oral anti-coagulant to hit the market which prevents strokes and blood clots in patients with abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation). The company’s exceptionally high investment in research is a huge reason for this success.
Trust equals progress
As a family-owned organisation, Boehringer Ingelheim thinks in generations as opposed to quarters, like many stock-listed companies. Everything it does is geared towards the long-term and sustainable commitment to patient and animal health. As Martin explains: “This is not only a benefit to the outside world but also internally for employees like me. To build an approach organically over the years has been a huge advantage and so far it’s been a great ride. I’ve truly grown with the company, starting out as a trainee 17 years ago I’ve experienced different functions and so much faith has been placed in me all the way. When I started it was not as globally focused as it is today, so it’s been an amazing journey to date and I hope it continues. As MD, I’ve been entrusted with Boehringer’s German human pharma market – this is also something unique for a company, to trust people and to have a continuous mindset to develop talent.” Yet another aspect that separates Boehringer Ingelheim from the rest is the fact that it produces a large slice of its pharmaceuticals in Europe. It has seven production sites on the Continent, three of which are in Germany; having a strong footprint at home allows it to prevent supply chain bottlenecks. Partnerships are highly valued by the German pharma giant, from research to development, and Martin explains that it collaborates with various medical institutions around the world because not everything can be done in-house. Leveraging expertise helps the company to boost innovation and with more than 150 partners there’s a lot of knowledge to call on.
Going forward, the future’s looking bright as Boehringer Ingelheim strives to make a difference. The Making More Health Initiative (MMH) is one example of how it’s improving lives everywhere by identifying and supporting the most promising solutions to challenging health problems. Since 2010, Boehringer Ingelheim and non-governmental organisation Ashoka have been working together in a global partnership. “With our partner Ashoka we engage actively in single social entrepreneurship projects,” Martin adds. “Ashoka displays competence in creating change and comes with the network and know-how to identify and advance social innovators. We can provide social entrepreneurs with a great deal of experience in professional project management. Furthermore, we support entrepreneurs with our skills, experience, and network. This way of collaboration forms a win-win situation for everyone: for our customers, for Ashoka, and for Boehringer Ingelheim.”
The company’s exceptionally high investment in research is a huge reason for