Lilly seeks short-term lift from smaller deals

By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – Eli Lilly and Co is looking at a number of deal opportunities to boost its offering of drugs in the short term, as it waits for in-house projects to mature, the company’s research head said on Thursday.

The 134-year-old U.S. pharmaceuticals group is struggling with a wave of generic competition to key drugs but has eschewed the idea of a large acquisition or a merger to solve its problems, focusing instead on relatively small deals.

Jan Lundberg said in an interview Lilly was pinning its hopes on conducting smarter and cheaper research in-house, while adding in promising compounds from outside through bolt-on deals.

“We are looking into a number of opportunities,” he said, noting these could range from outright acquisitions to licensing deals to partnering tie-ups with other pharmaceutical companies.

“A very high priority would be to get products or late-stage compounds with high quality that could bring in income in the short term before we have the launches of the greater magnitude of the current portfolio,” Lundberg said.

He highlighted recent deals such as acquiring rights to testosterone drug Axiron from Acrux for $335 million and buying Avid Radiopharmaceuticals for up to $800 million as good examples of the strategy Lilly planned to pursue.

These fit with Lilly’s recent focus on deals of up to $1 billion — although two years ago it paid $6.5 billion for cancer specialist ImClone Systems in its biggest acquisition ever.

Lundberg, who was attending the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London, declined to put a price range on possible upcoming deals.

“It’s a very crowded market and the really good opportunities that are accessible at a reasonable price are not many,” he said.

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(Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

Lilly seeks short-term lift from smaller deals