Kinsale main launch site for Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly and Company — the tenth largest pharmaceutical company in the world — is to make its €1 billion Kinsale facility the main launch site for all new products.

Eli Lilly and Company chairman, chief executive officer and president John C Lechleiter told the Irish Examiner the company is very pleased with the results of the €500 million investment it has made in its Dunderrow facility in Kinsale over the last five years.

“We intend to have Kinsale as our primary launch site for all our new products. In making that decision we are really betting on the talent, we are betting on the environment that has been helpful and welcoming. We’ve had a very good relationship with the IDA over the years. We’ve had an excellent relationship with universities none more so than UCC where we had joint research programmes, sponsored post-doctoral students, done internships,” he said.

Mr Lechleiter was very upbeat about the company’s Irish workforce which he said has been delivered by what he describes as an outstanding educational system. “I would say there’s a real desire here for educational attainment, a thirst for knowledge. There’s a pride in doing a good degree and in applying that knowledge. When I visit our manufacturing site here, down to the last person, everyone is so enthusiastic about telling me about what they are doing, the complexities of it, the rigours of it.

“There is a genuine love of science, technology and engineering here that is reflected in the quality of the work and ultimately in the degree to which Eli Lilly and Company says it is satisfied or delighted, with the presence we’ve had here for the past 30 years here.”

Mr Lechleiter said this is why Eli Lilly have made successive investments to expand its footprint, not just size-wise but from the original sort of small molecule mission to bio-molecules.

Mr Lechleiter said that while he accepts the development globally of new medicines has been “rather flat”, he believes the industry is on the cusp of a renaissance.

“The industry is coming out of the trough perhaps, taking advantage of new knowledge and breakthroughs we’ve had, such as sequencing the human genome, a revolution in terms of our understanding of the fundamental biology that underlies many disease processes. All these things, I think, add up and augur well for a renaissance in productivity for the advent of new medicines in the years ahead.”

Mr Lechleiter said the industry has taken a lot of the guesswork out of research. “I think we are much more deliberate and much more rational in our approach than in the early stages of this business and I happen to believe this will ultimately translate into more medicines down the road,” he said.

He identified as a major challenge the large clinical studies that have to be done to get approval to bring drugs to market. “We still have work to do there I think, to try and strike a balance on what we need to know about the medicine, and what regulators need to know about the medicine, to make sure we get the right balance of benefit and risk without overwhelming our ability to actually finance that, while we are selling our medicines at prices that people say they can afford,” he said.

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