Lilly pushes deeper into men's health

In an effort to become a leader in men's health, Cialis maker Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is reporting progress in the battle to help men fight erectile dysfunction. For example, this week the drugmaker had advanced an experimental drug for treating enlarged prostate from early-stage to middle-stage clinical trials.

The company is enrolling men with enlarged prostates in a 24-week test to see how well the drug, known as LY500307, can treat the ailment. And earlier this year, the company signed a worldwide license agreement with an Australian biotech firm, Acrux, to sell an experimental gel for treatment of testosterone deficiency, which affects up to 39 percent of men older than 45, IndyStar points out.

"There are a lot of companies with lots of different products that touch men's health, but no one really is a clear leader," says Linda Bannister, a drug analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis, as quoted by IndyStar. "There's an opportunity for Lilly here." And with few products out there, they won't have a lot of competition, says Les Funtleyder, a drug analyst at Miller Tabak & Co. "If they're successful at this, they'll do pretty well."

If successful, Lilly could reap untold billions in new sales, which could help as it struggles with a steep falloff in sales from other leading products, which are about to lose their patent exclusivity and face low-cost generic rivals, IndyStar notes.

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