Eli Lilly Seeks "Voluntary Exits" From 200 Researchers

Eli Lilly Seeks ‘Voluntary Exits’ From 200 Researchers February 6, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

INDIANAPOLIS – Weeks after terminating 485 positions linked to Eli Lilly ’s failed Alzheimer’s therapy solanezumab, the company is aiming at terminating another 3 percent of its research and development staff, Endpoints reported this morning.

The trade publication said Indiana-based Eli Lilly was seeking “voluntary exits” from approximately 200 employees. The announcement came only a few days after new Eli Lilly Chief Executive Office David Ricks told President Donald Trump that the company was looking to hire additional staff for drug manufacturing, a key area of economic development the new administration is pushing. During a meeting with Trump and pharma executives last week, Ricks told the president the company was in the process of hiring manufacturing positions, Endpoints said.

An Eli Lilly spokesperson told Endpoints that the cuts in the R&D department were not aimed at any particular development group.

“Lilly is focusing its investment in new R&D capabilities to ensure portfolio sustainability,” the spokesperson said, according to the Endpoints article. “We plan to increase our investment and hire in strategic areas, including molecule-making capabilities, immunology and Alzheimer’s disease, across our U.S. research sites later this year.”

Last month the company announced it will begin handing out pink slips to those 485 sales representatives working with the company’s U.S. Bio-Medicines business on March 31. In December, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly first announced it would cut jobs following the failure of solanezumab.

While Lilly is making cuts, last week the company reported strong fourth quarter earnings, which beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts. In an interview with Bloomberg, Ricks said the company is expecting long-term growth of approximately 5 percent per year until the end of the decade. He said company growth is based off new product development.

“The company is in good shape,” he said.

Shortly after taking over the reins of Eli Lilly on Jan. 1, Ricks implemented some organizational changes that included leadership changes and a reorganization of divisions. As of Feb. 1, the company’s Diabetes, Oncology and Bio-Medicines human pharmaceutical therapeutic business areas will assume commercial responsibility for their products in China—in addition to the U.S., Japanese and Canadian markets in which they already operate. Other changes include an announcement that Lilly Diabetes will host the company's human pharmaceutical commercial operations in the United States, China, Japan and Canada.

While Lilly is moving forward with new drug development, the failed solanezumab lost another avenue forward as the company scrapped another Phase III study for patients with prodromal disease, an early form of Alzheimer’s. In a call with investors and analysts last week, Ricks said there was no scientific basis to continue the trial. There is still some clinical work being done with sola, as it is under investigation for Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s “A4” and Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease.

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