By Carl O'Donnell
(Reuters) – US drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co announced on Thursday that it will create a new cancer research division that will be run by top executives of Loxo Oncology, a cancer-focused biotechnology company it acquired earlier this year. year.
The move highlights Lilly's efforts to double its cancer business following the $ 8 billion acquisition of Loxo in February.
The company has focused on increasing sales in major franchises, including diabetes and oncology, as sales of blockbuster drugs such as Humalog diabetes treatment and Cialis erectile dysfunction drug face the pressure of generic competition.
The new facility, to be called Loxo Oncology in Lilly, will include experimental cancer drugs from the Lilly and Loxo development pipelines.
It will be jointly led by Loxo's former CEO Josh Bilenker, Jacob Van Naarden, who was business director of Stamford's Connecticut-based company, and Nisha Nanda, who was its director of development.
Indianapolis-based Lilly is also hiring David Hyman to be the head doctor of the new unit. Hyman currently serves as head of the drug development service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
They will report to Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's chief scientific officer.
"We aim to create a balanced line of drugs – discovered internally or externally – to help even more cancer patients around the world and position Lilly as a premier oncology company," Skovronsky said in a statement.
CEO David Ricks said in October that Lilly will actively pursue oncology deals.
Lilly acquired a promising drug called selpercatinib with its purchase of Loxo that it plans to undergo regulatory approval later this year after the drug that treats cancers caused by a rare specific genetic mutation produced positive data on lung cancer.
He also has several other cancer drugs underway, some of which were developed internally and others brought from Loxo. By installing the new oncology unit, some of its development projects will be terminated, the company said.
Lilly reported lower-than-expected sales in the third quarter, with the company paying heavy discounts to insurers for its top-selling diabetes drug Trulicity.
The story goes on
In October, Lilly received US approval for the Reyvow migraine medicine.
(Report by Carl O'Donnell; Bill Berkrot Edition)