Lilly CEO Lechleiter touts pipeline

Over the next several years, Eli Lilly will be facing generic competition for the antipsychotic Zyprexa, antidepressant Cymbalta and other blockbuster drugs that account for a good portion of the company's sales. But unlike other Big Pharma companies that are facing the same challenge--and turning to mega-M&A deals to survive--Lilly is looking to its own pipeline to get it through the rocky years ahead.

That according to CEO John Lechleiter who, in an interview with Forbes, says his company won't be the next to ink a major deal. "We don't see a compelling case that would indicate these large combinations have created sustained value for shareholders at the bottom line... The byproducts of these large combinations are always a lot of disruption and a lot of distraction for what can be an extended period of time."

But what will the company do to replace the hole in its revenue when some of it's bestselling drugs go off patent? Lechleiter says Lilly will identify the most promising of its 60 pipeline candidates and focus on developing the ones that will have the most impact in the next decade. He also points to cancer drug Altima, it's insulin franchise, and the Japanese market as potentials for growth. And while Lilly won't be pursuing a big buyout, the company is still in a good position to do other deals.

"We're looking at opportunities that are going to be smaller than the ImClone acquisition," says Lechleiter, adding that the company is always in talks for non-M&A deals like licensing opportunities or other partnerships.

- read the interview