LONDON--German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) is pitching two new global product briefs, readying PR budgets of as much as $3m for the new drugs, which both target chronic lung disease.

The Holmes Report understands that the company held separate pitches for the two products last week in London, inviting six agencies to present proposals.

Both of the new drugs treat lung disease. One is Olodaterol, a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the world’s leading causes of death and disability. In combination with existing COPD drug Spiriva, Olodaterol is tipped to reach blockbuster status. Several major pharma companies are developing similar compounds, with BI’s version expected to reach market by 2013.

The second is BIBF 1120, a molecule that treats idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a severely debilitating chronic lung disease.

It is understood that the Olodaterol brief covers US and global PR plans, commencing this year. According to sources, the RFP asks agencies to present proposals for three budget scenarios, the biggest of which assigns $1m for global PR, and $500,000 for US activities.

COPD occurs from either chronic bronchitis or emphysema and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. The WHO estimates that 210 million people currently live with COPD, with prevalence expected to rise. Cigarette smoking is its predominant cause, while pollution increases risk.

Novartis has already launched Indacaterol, and is expected to be the first company to market a combined COPD drug. GSK also has a similar treatment in development. One source involved in the review said that competition will be “fierce” because of the marginal differences between distinct products.

Accordingly, BI is hoping to position itself as a leader in terms of COPD treatment, drawing on the success of Spiriva. However, recent tests have raised concerns about the risk of death associated with Spiriva’s Respimat mist inhaler.

In 2010, Spiriva was BI’s biggest-selling drug, growing by 19 percent to reach net sales of approximately $4bn.

BIBF 1120, meanwhile, is not expected to reach market until 2015. The causes of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) are poorly understood, but its high mortality rate and increasing prevalence make it a target area for new treatments.

At present, the only approved IPF drug is Intermine’s Pirfenidone, which has yet to be cleared in the US. BI is currently conducting clinical trials for BIBF 1120.

According to sources, BI is again asking agencies for proposals in line with three budget scenarios, the highest of which assigns almost $1m to global PR, and $500,000 to US activities.

BI representatives did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.

BI’s sales dipped by almost $2bn in 2010, due to the loss of exclusivity rights on certain drugs in the US, a market that accounts for almost half of its global revenue. The company employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.