Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (LLY) laid out an ambitious R&D agenda for launching up to 20 new drugs by 2023 during an investor presentation on Tuesday. The company also said it hopes to add a significant number of uses for its existing therapies in order to bolster those drugs’ market strength.
Lilly said that it would be focusing on key franchises such as diabetes, oncology, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and add immunology to its roster of core therapeutic spaces. In addition, the firm hopes that its emerging focus on non-opioid pain therapies will become fertile ground for new drugs.
“There are no guarantees given the nature of science and of our business,” admitted Lilly CEO John Lechleiter. “However, in looking at our recent launches and current pipeline, we believe we are in the midst of the most prolific period of new launches in our company’s 140-year history.”
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The firm’s announcement is, in some ways, a recognition of its recent struggles with developing new drugs. Lilly had just one new therapy approved in 2015, the advanced lung cancer drug Portrazza. But the pharma also had to ditch one of its pipeline stars, a cardiovascular treatment meant to boost “good” HDL cholesterol, after determining that it would likely be ineffective for patients.
An outsize share of Lilly’s revenues have flowed from drugs that are more than 10 years old, according to life sciences analytics firm EP Vantage.
Eli Lilly issued a fairly conservative 2016 earnings outlook earlier this year. The company also recently bought up 30,000 square feet of laboratory space in New York City in order to assist its R&D ambitions by bringing it closer to local academic institutions and research labs.