Lilly is developing the two basal insulins – its first meaningful products in the niche – with Boehringer Ingelheim and has begun talking up the treatments to investors. Part of the strategy for the insulins, and the broader diabetes portfolio at Lilly, is to make use of drug delivery and manufacturing assets.
“We intend to leverage our considerable manufacturing capacity, as well as our device capabilities, to deliver a very competitive product”, Enrique Conterno, president of Lilly Diabetes, said at an update on its pipeline.
Lilly will use its existing capacity and capabilities in manufacturing and drug delivery to support the possible commercialisation of two basal insulins. While both are basal insulins Lilly thinks the more innovative of the two drugs occupies a different niche and as such there are benefits to selling both.
Also, the need to invest in commercialising both products is cut by using the pre-existing footprint and skills at Lilly. “We do have the infrastructure, commercially from a manufacturing perspective, [and] we have the delivery devices, so it is not a huge incremental expense for us”, Conterno said.
The update on Phase III treatments in development at Lilly comes a week after it opened a diabetes-focused research centre in Shanghai, China. As part of the move Lilly expanded its dealings with its CRO (contract research organisation) partner Covance to cover preclinical diabetes services in China.
Investing in China
Lilly made another move in China this week when it invested $20m (€16m) in Nantong-based generic and specialty drugmaker Novast Laboratories. The move follows an earlier investment by a venture capital unit at Lilly and gives Novast funding to support the expansion of its manufacturing assets.
Eric Baclet, president of Lilly China, said: “We have made significant investments in research and development…and expanded our manufacturing capabilities both at Lilly owned sites and through partner companies such as Novast.” Lilly will provide technical support to boost quality at Novast.
Expansion of production capacity at Novast will support Lilly’s push into branded generics in China. A further expansion of the relationship could also result in Novast performing regional production of drugs in development at Lilly.
“This long term strategic partnership will combine Lilly's expertise in innovation, commercialisation and operations with Novast's strengths in product development and quality manufacturing”, Guohua Zhang, president and CEO of Novast said.