Expanding the outsourcing support of its clinical trials, Eli Lilly is transferring U.S. medical writing and biostatistical services to i3 Statprobe, a move that expands the business relationship formed between the two companies in 2008 when Lilly transferred the majority of its domestic data management activities to i3.
“Between 2008 and 2010, Lilly in essence got out of the actual business of conducting the trials and transferred the clinical data services work, and we invited their personnel to join us and work on Lilly projects,” said Gregg Dearhammer, group president of i3 Statprobe and i3 Drug Safety.
Dearhammer said Lilly transferred 80 data management people to i3 in 2008 and i3 has since added more employees. Together they work on clinical trials system build and coordination, data set creation and coordination, data flow, data review and data valuation. As part of its agreement, the company opened a 21,000-square-foot office in Indianapolis not far from Eli Lilly’s headquarters.
He said that while fewer than 80 Lilly employees in medical writing and biostatistics will join i3 this year, i3 plans to hire 40 additional people by next year.
“The basic idea of our innovative contract is that it allows Lilly to take a fixed cost out of their company and translate it to a variable, as they are only paying for the deliverables,” said Dearhammer. “We get the project work, great people and the continuity of that product, and their people have a home with us.”
The Lilly partnership is the largest of 10 i3 Statprobe strategic deals with pharmaceutical companies, Dearhammer noted.
“i3 with an established presence on the north side of Indianapolis has proved itself as a partner capable of consistently delivering high-quality work with our agreed-upon performance metrics” said Aarti Shah, Ph.D., vice president of statistics and advanced analytics at Eli Lilly.
Having fewer Eli Lilly employees remains a key goal. CEO John Lechleiter a year ago announced plans to cut 5,500 jobs and reduce costs by $1 billion by 2011 as the company prepares to enter “the most challenging period in [the] company’s history.”
In looking to streamline the development of new medicines, the company has 60 molecules in development. But it also faces lower sales and profits as a trio of its best-selling drugs lose patent protection, beginning in 2011 with Zyprexa, an antipsychotic. Two other drugs, Cymbalta, an antidepressant that is also used to treat pain caused by complications from diabetes, and Evista, an osteoporosis treatment for women experiencing menopause, will lose their patents by 2014.
Lilly has stated that growing sales of its drugs in Japan and China will help it survive its patent protection problems. The company expects revenues in China to climb five-fold by 2015 to almost $1 billion. Lilly is also considering moving some production to India.