Eli Lilly ($LLY) CEO John Lechleiter hit some familiar notes in a speech to a Japanese business group, urging a more predictable regulatory and pricing environment to encourage R&D innovation. And he called on the Japanese to make it easier to include the country in early-stage R&D plans while continuing down the path to a multinational approach to clinical trial protocols. But it's what he said in his side comments to reporters that made the news.
The Indianapolis Business Journal leads off with Lechleiter's prediction that Amyvid, a groundbreaking new approach to diagnosing Alzheimer's which Lilly acquired recently, will get a regulatory nod in the U.S. in a matter of months. Dow Jones, meanwhile, zeroes in on Lechleiter's prediction that once Cymbalta faces generic competition in 2013, Lilly will be poised for growth again. And just to add for the umpteenth time, he once again swore off any big buyout deals, preferring to stand by the company's beleaguered research operations.
Says Lechleiter: "We still see no need for large-scale mergers and acquisition activity. We don't believe large deals in the industry have been more productive than developing our research capability."
Lechleiter has been an outspoken advocate for a "more networked, global, and entrepreneurial" R&D approach. In a comment to the Wall Street Journal, he noted that a recent diabetes development deal with Boehringer Ingelheim was its most "far-reaching yet." But what Lilly needs now more than anything is a late-stage success it can call its own.
The pharma chief has pushed hard to keep up its multibillion-dollar annual R&D budget. But a string of clinical trial setbacks has continued to add pressure on Lechleiter to prove that Lilly can deliver new products without buying them in an M&A deal.