Eli Lilly to spur R&D in top-to-bottom revamp

Eli Lilly (LLY) is painting a top-to-bottom restructuring in very broad strokes today, vowing to speed up on its drug development efforts even as it slashes 5,500 jobs from its worldwide workforce and trims a billion dollars in costs.

Chairman and CEO John Lechleiter (photo) told investors that the pharma giant "is convinced that Lilly's promising pipeline of early- and midstage molecules offers the best possible opportunity for sustainable long-term growth." But..."while our structure and approach served us well in the past, we must take measures now that will make us leaner, more focused, more customer-oriented, and more competitive."

To help spur innovation, Lilly announced today that it is establishing the Development Center of Excellence "to help address the industry-wide challenge of a drug development process that is increasingly complex, slow and expensive. The Development COE will distinguish Lilly from its peers by using one common operating system, one common set of priorities and a singular focus to streamline the development of new medicines. The ultimate goal of the Development COE is to accelerate the launch of important Lilly molecules over the next decade and bring innovative medicines to patients sooner."

Tim Garnett, M.D., and Tom Verhoeven, Ph.D., will lead the Development Center of Excellence within Lilly Research Laboratories. Garnett will have responsibility for medical, regulatory, global product safety, translational medicine and global health outcomes. Verhoeven will have responsibility for the clinical development organization, product R&D, toxicology/ADME and project management.

A leaner Lilly means a cut in its ranks from 40,500 to 35,000 and a company structured around five core units: oncology, diabetes, established markets, emerging markets and animal health. Analysts say that Lilly has to cut spending and improve on its R&D performance as it braces for the loss of key patents, including generic competition for the antipsychotic Zyprexa in 2011.

- check out Lilly's release on the restructuring
- check out the release on the management changes
- read the story from the Wall Street Journal