Taurel says Lilly is ‘fighting’ for survival

Eli Lilly’s CEO Sidney Taurel said his company is facing a fight to survive, according to a report this week on The Indianapolis Star’s Web site. In a report to shareholders on Monday, Taurel sketched a bleak picture of Lilly’s workaday world, calling it “by far the toughest I have seen in my almost 35 years in this industry.” Taurel said that it has been “terribly painful” to see drug companies painted as “public enemy” by critics for their expensive drugs and aggressive marketing, stating that Lilly is “fighting beyond our weight class” to improve the industry’s public image. Taurel added that Lilly plans to “transform our enterprise in some fundamental ways” with productivity gains that will save $250 million this year and smarter research that will cut costs of developing a new drug from $1.2 billion to $800 million. New Lilly president John Lechleiter echoed Taurel’s comments, saying a “back-to-basics agenda” by management is showing results by boosting output from the research labs and honing manufacturing methods and customer relations. Lechleiter added that Lilly hopes to “stop completely” the yearlong decline in sales of the antipsychotic Zyprexa, its best seller. At a separate meeting in Boston on Wednesday, Lechleiter said Lilly hopes partnerships with other companies will help the company cut costs. “We want to cut the price tag to roughly $800 million in the next five years and it will take a relentless effort,” Lechleiter was quoted as saying in a Reuters report. Lechleiter added that new technology will also help. “We will get a boost from science itself,” he said.