Ridgefield drug giant promotes exec to CEO of U.S. ops

Jean-Michel Boers, named CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals' U.S. operations based in Ridgefield, Conn. entering August 2020.

Jean-Michel Boers, named CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals' U.S. operations based in Ridgefield, Conn. entering August 2020.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals will have a new CEO for its U.S. operations entering August, with the retirement of Wolfgang Baiker.

Incoming CEO Jean-Michel Boers has spent the past three-plus years as president in the Germany drug manufacturer’s U.S. headquarters in Ridgefield, which with more than 2,000 employees is among Connecticut’s larger corporate employers. Globally, Boehringer Ingelheim had more than 50,000 employees at last report.

Multiple market research firms include Boehringer Ingelheim among the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, with most listing Pfizer as the largest with the New York City company also a major employer in Connecticut via a research facility in Groton. Last week, the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry held its annual Bio convention in virtual format, including sessions assessing the all-hands-on-deck effort to develop vaccines and therapies for the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus.

As coronavirus leaped borders this past winter, Boehringer Ingelheim opened its library of millions of molecular compounds to researchers globally. The company continued pharmaceutical manufacturing but otherwise shifted to remote working for many workers, who were given up to 10 days paid leave to volunteer in their communities if they so chose.

Boehringer Ingelheim drug sales totaled $15.7 billion last year, not including another $4.5 billion in veterinary therapies. Major drugs include Jardiance and Trajenta to treat type 2 diabetes; Spiriva for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma; and Pradaxa to reduce the odds of strokes in patients with irregular heartbeats.

The company has more than 100 candidate drugs in varying stages of development, including to treat Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory ailments, obesity, auto-immune disorders and cancer.

In addition to internal research and development, Boehringer Ingelheim also leverages a venture fund to invest in other companies, including in New York and Massachusetts but listing no current investments in Connecticut. In May, Boehringer Ingelheim acquired Northern Biologics, a cancer treatment startup with locations in Toronto and Boston led by Philip Vickers, who led Boehringer Ingelheim’s U.S. research more than a decade ago.

Boers has spent more than two decades with Boehringer Ingelheim, moving to Weston after he transferred to the Ridgefield offices in 2016 where he would lead U.S. human pharmaceutical operations. Baiker has led the U.S. operations since March 2018.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman