Lilly CEO Lechleiter Calls for Repair of the 'Engine of Biopharma Innovation'

LillyIn a speech to the City Club of San Diego, John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), said that the engine of biopharmaceutical innovation is "broken." He offered a vision for biopharmaceutical companies to "reinvent innovation" to make the most of today's wealth of scientific knowledge to benefit patients and address unmet medical needs. Lechleiter's remarks came the day after his company dedicated a state-of-the-art biotechnology center in San Diego.

"At a time when the world desperately needs more new medicines - for everything from H1N1 to Alzheimer's disease - we're taking too long, spending too much and producing far too little," said Lechleiter, whose company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. "Repowering pharmaceutical innovation is an urgent need not only for our company and our industry but for our nation - and for communities like San Diego and Indianapolis that have a huge stake in the life sciences. We remain dependent on a society that welcomes and values new ideas, and public policy that enables innovation to be rewarded for the value it creates. But we also know that we need to change."

Addressing the audience of business leaders that included many from San Diego's biotech community, Lechleiter said that biopharmaceutical research and development reduces medical costs, improves Americans' health, and provides many high-paying jobs. But despite its value to health care, he said, the biopharma industry is losing its advantage and wasting its potential. Noting the current debate on health care reform, he stressed the need for public policy that enables and rewards medical innovation that can help rein in health care costs and improve quality.

Lechleiter outlined major challenges the industry must overcome:

  • A loss of trust in product safety and in the honesty of pharmaceutical businesses, for which he said "we mostly have ourselves to blame";
  • A risk-averse policy and regulatory environment that has led to high hurdles for new medicines that could benefit patients; and
  • The pressures of the health care system, where the industry has become an attractive target for policy makers looking for cost savings, even as prescription drugs account for only 10 percent of health care spending.

Lechleiter said that instead of wasting time complaining about these external pressures, however, biopharma companies must change the way they develop new medicines.

He suggested three "C's" for revitalizing medical innovation:

  • Collaboration: breaking down the walls to work with other large and small enterprises and with academic and government researchers, worldwide;
  • Competency: employing advanced scientific tools to take advantage of the explosion of knowledge in human biology; and
  • Culture: putting patients and improved outcomes at the center of research from the very beginning of the drug development process.

Lechleiter cited Lilly initiatives in each area:

  • Lilly's Fully Integrated Pharmaceutical Network (FIPNet) model to access ideas, resources, and talent beyond its walls, including extensive collaboration with biotech firms and academic research centers in San Diego;
  • The company's use of advanced analytics and clinical trial designs, and its new Development Center of Excellence, to streamline the development of new medicines, and its focus on tailored therapeutics to improve outcomes for individual patients; and
  • Lilly's efforts to create a culture with a sharp focus on patients and a "new spirit of urgency."

He concluded that reinventing biopharmaceutical research and development in these ways would help regain the public's trust, address the concerns of regulators and demonstrate to policymakers the value that innovative medicines can and must play.

Yesterday Lilly, one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical research companies, opened the "Lilly Biotechnology Center - San Diego."

About Lilly
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers - through medicines and information - for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at www.lilly.com.

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