Lilly CEO: Pipeline to soften patent losses

Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is looking to its pipeline to fill the gaps left by a number of high-profile drugs comping off patent. In October 2011, blockbuster Zyprexa will fall to generic competition; additionally, about three-quarters of Lilly's current revenue comes from eight drugs that will lose patent protection between now and 2017. "We have the challenge of replenishing our product portfolio from our pipeline," says CEO John Lechleiter (photo) in a USA Today interview. "Fortunately, we have the most exciting pipeline today in our history."

The CEO notes that Lilly has about 70 molecules in clinical development, giving the drug giants multiple shots on goal. He adds the company is "confident that while not all those will make it, many of them will." Late-stage programs include enzastaurin (cancer), IMC 11F8 (non-small cell lung cancer), IMC-1121B (breast and gastric cancer), tasisulam (melanoma), teplizumab (diabetes), GLP-1 Fc (diabetes), semagacestat (Alzheimer's) and solanezumab (Alzheimer's), according to the company's website. Three additional drugs are under FDA review. Lechleiter adds that aside from the Prozac expiration in 2001, Eli Lilly has gone almost 20 years without a major patent expiration. "I think that makes the nature of the challenge more acutely felt for us."

- read the interview at the Indianapolis Star

ALSO: Lilly has completed its acquisition of Alnara Pharmaceuticals, which is developing protein therapeutics for the treatment of metabolic diseases. The financial details were not release when the deal was first announced, but Lilly has revealed that it is paying $180 million up front and up to $380 million for the developer. Lilly release | Report