Eli Lilly CEO says company won’t merge

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 11:25 AM

Eli Lilly, which faces plunging sales due to competition and lapsing patents, will not merge with another company, CEO John Lechleiter said, according to Reuters.

Speaking at a conference in Beijing, Lechleiter said he was confident the Indianapolis-based company can survive on its own by inventing sufficient new drugs.

Eli Lilly's resistance to any form of merger comes despite a series of patent lapses, competition from generic drugmakers and regulatory setbacks that may impact its sales in coming months and years.

"We are still very much opposed to a large-scale combination," Lechleiter told Reuters. "We don't think size is necessarily supportive of innovation."

"We feel that (with) our current size, with the sizeable investment in research and development, we have the way to generate new medicines we need to replace the medicines that we are losing, that are coming off patent in the next several years."

To bolster its earnings prospects, Lechleiter said Lilly would increasingly focus on its animal health unit, one of the bright spots in the firm and where growth has far outpaced that in the core drug business.

Lilly will buy Johnson & Johnson's animal health unit for an undisclosed sum to augment its presence in Europe. Lechleiter said Lilly was open to buying other animal health businesses if the price is right.

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