“We can make a significant difference”

A cardiovascular safety trial for JARDIANCE® has revealed that this type 2 diabetes medicine is not only well-tolerated but even reduces the number of fatalities and also may have a positive impact in case of heart failure. But that was just the start of the work facing the physician Prof. Dr. Martina Brückmann. The pioneer in the clinical development of cardiovascular medicines is currently conducting trials with the goal of finding out more about the positive effects of JARDIANCE® in patients suffering from heart failure.

Mrs. Brückmann, you spent over ten years working as a cardiologist in a hospital. How does that experience help you in your day-to-day work at Boehringer Ingelheim?

In my time as a practicing physician, I saw many patients with heart failure and had a huge number of personal conversations with them. In a hospital, you see patients on good days, but more often on bad days. I know how urgently they need innovative medicines. I am able to contribute this experience at Boehringer Ingelheim in order to drive science forward and tailor our medicines to patients.

The clinical safety trial for the diabetes medicine JARDIANCE® has identified an unexpected additional benefit for diabetes patients suffering from heart failure and other pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. How did you initially react to this finding?

We were surprised – in fact, we were almost euphoric. As you mentioned, this review yielded the unexpected finding that JARDIANCE® can prevent the emergence of heart failure and also guard against complications in the case of hearts with pre-existing weaknesses. Patients taking JARDIANCE® were hospitalized less frequently due to heart problems, and there was even a decrease in the number of fatalities in comparison with the patients who took the placebo. We immediately realized that we needed to follow up on this finding – also in relation to heart failure where this is not associated with diabetes.

I am spurred on by the prospect of heart failure patients living better lives.

Prof. Dr. Martina Brückmann

Boehringer Ingelheim has subsequently been pursuing research into making JARDIANCE® available to patients with heart failure. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

We now have over 10,000 patients in more than 20 countries participating in the indication expansion trials for this medicine. There is a very high hurdle for marketing authorization. Patient safety is always of paramount concern, together with the need for a high level of efficacy. Accordingly, the operational team implementing, coordinating and supervising this trial is very large. We expect to see our first, hopefully positive, results soon.

What would a positive result mean in concrete terms?

Despite the considerable medical progress achieved over the past few years, heart failure patients still suffer an unacceptably high rate of complications such as recurrent hospitalization. Medicines are already available, but many of them have side effects. The overall situation for patients is simply not yet good enough. Moreover, life expectancy for heart failure is in some cases lower than for some cancers: Roughly half of all patients with heart failure will die within the first five years following diagnosis. JARDIANCE® offers a very good opportunity to really make an impact and improve things for these patients.

Does this opportunity also motivate you in your work?

I am spurred on by the prospect of heart failure patients living better lives, with fewer fatalities. That would be fantastic! For a heart failure patient, the mortality rate and the frequency of complications are currently still high. Our goal is to extend patients’ lives. This is where we can make a significant difference.