“Horses also cough”

Boehringer Ingelheim expanded its product portfolio at the start of the year: The ASERVO® EQUIHALER® has been on the market in Europe since the spring of 2020. This is an inhaler for horses, which is based on RESPIMAT® technology from the field of human pharmaceuticals. The idea originated with Dr. Nicole Mohren and her colleagues in the Group’s German Animal Health business.

Mrs. Mohren, why do horses need an inhaler?

Horses also cough, which gradually reduces their performance over time. The cause for this may include antigens, for instance, which are inhaled together with the dust that is blown up out of the hay in the horse’s stable. Over time, this contamination can become a problem for horses. Before I joined Boehringer Ingelheim, I spent seven years working as a veterinarian in clinical practice. After joining Boehringer Ingelheim, I was asked what therapy horses would urgently require.

And you saw inhalation as the greatest area of need?

Exactly. Back then, there wasn’t any medicine available as an inhalation therapy for treatment of chronic respiratory diseases in horses that I was entirely convinced of. There was a real gap here.

What were your first steps in the development of the ASERVO® EQUIHALER®?

The original idea was to take the RESPIMAT® for humans, and to attach a connector to integrate a nostril adapter. But to ensure ease of use, the entire mechanism needed to be housed differently. And then the question as to the right substance came up.

Which criteria did the substance need to fulfill?

We needed an anti-inflammatory substance that offers a good safety profile for the horse and does not require administration forms such as tablets. The crucial point for the successful treatment of respiratory diseases is that the medication needs to be effective directly in the lung.

Does the ASERVO® EQUIHALER® achieve this?

Yes. We have achieved very strong availability of the substance at the site of action, in the lung. The fine and particularly slow spray mist the ASERVO® EQUIHALER® delivers plays a key role here. It enables fine particles to penetrate deep into the lung.

What additional strengths does the new inhaler offer?

It is easy to use, since the inhaler can be operated with one hand. For a long time, inhaled substances for horses have mainly been administered via masks. That is complicated and not very comfortable for the horse. Our ASERVO® EQUIHALER® provides significant added value here.

The inhaler is based on the key components of RESPIMAT®, which are produced in Dortmund. What was it like working with Boehringer Ingelheim microParts?

The know-how for these components has entirely resulted from the Group’s development activities in Dortmund. For that reason, we worked together intensively throughout the development cycle. Our colleagues there have unbelievable expertise thanks to their years of development work. The two fields – Human Pharmaceuticals and Animal Health – are linked by a common idea: to offer innovative solutions for our patients.