Lilly under legal fire over split from Adocia

Eli Lilly headquarters
Eli Lilly's headquarters

Adocia is taking legal action against two-time former partner Eli Lilly. The diabetes biotech wants Lilly to pay up $11 million (€9 million) plus extras to offset perceived harm caused by its changes to the product development plan.

Lyon, France-based Adocia has begun arbitration proceedings against Lilly about nine months after the Big Pharma walked away from the deal it struck in 2014. That left Adocia without a partner for its fast-acting insulin on the cusp of phase 3 and turned Lilly, which has an internal fast-acting insulin program, from a partner into a rival.

Now, Adocia has decided to bite back. The French biotech wants $11 million plus “other specific relief” relating to “Lilly’s change of the product development plan.” Adocia expects the arbitration proceedings to wrap up in the first half of next year.

Adocia’s decision to open the case adds a late twist to its roller-coaster relationship with Lilly. 

The legal case relates to the agreement the companies entered into in 2014. Lilly paid $50 million upfront and committed to $520 million more to enter into the worldwide licensing collaboration, only to walk away two years later. Lilly kept mum about its reasons but the progress of its own fast-acting insulin, LY900014, may have factored into the decision.

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That was the second time Lilly decided to severe ties to Adocia. The first time came in 2013, when Lilly walked away from the smaller—$10 million upfront, $155 million in milestones—deal it struck in 2011. That earlier pact covered the same fast-acting insulin at the heart of the 2014 agreement.    

Adocia bounced back from its 2013 split from Lilly, which CEO Gérard Soula later told BioWorld was the result of a deep disagreement about how to advance the program. Soula said Lilly wanted to keep testing the drug in healthy volunteers. Adocia wanted to power forward. Having agreed to go its own way, Adocia followed its development plan and generated the data that brought Lilly back to the deal table.

While Adocia presented the decision to end the 2011 relationship as being mutual, Lilly’s exit from the second agreement was unilateral. Adocia, still floundering unpartnered as its phase 3 approaches, thinks the path that led Lilly to that point features an action worth $11 million in relief.