Eli Lilly to open new innovation center with a focus on drug delivery devices

By Jonah Comstock
09:54 am
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GlucagonIndianapolis-based pharma giant Eli Lilly is opening a new drug delivery and innovation center in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Construction will begin immediately, with the center opening by the end of the year for a planned staff of 30 scientists and engineers.

Eli Lilly Senior Director of Global Corporate Communications Edward Sagebiel said one Eli Lilly executive will move to Cambridge from Indianapolis, but most of the new center will be staffed by local hires.

"Part of the reason for being in Cambridge is to be a part of the broad life sciences ecosystem of technology," Sagebiel told MobiHealthNews. "You’ve got high-caliber institutions, world-class talent. The idea is to knock down the walls not just internally, but externally as well."

The focus of the new Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center will be on drug delivery and device innovation, specifically related to diabetes, neural degeneration (including Alzheimer's), immunology, and chronic pain. Those are all areas where the medication involves some kind of injectable or biologic, and Lilly wants to explore all kinds of innovations related to drug delivery devices -- including, potentially, mobile health.

"As we start to look at this, we’re looking at what kind of technology changes and evolution is going to allow for a simple, convenient delivery and part of that is the technology part and the technology that’s coming together about mobile technology and so on," he said. "We’ll seek to work with similar leading experts there in Boston in the Cambridge area to think about, research, and explore some of those technologies and potential applications for our company."

Eli Lilly currently has four apps in the Apple app store, including Glucagon, an app for teaching patients how to use an injectable medication. The company also has a mobile-optimized noncommercial website called Lilly for Better Health.

The new center also represents an increased investment in biologics; the company intends to double those revenues by 2020. The new space will increase the company's delivery and device research and development space by nearly 50 percent and increase its staff by 25 percent.

"New drug delivery and device innovation is critically important to Lilly's growing portfolio of potential medicines, particularly in our focus areas of diabetes, neurodegeneration, immunology and pain,"Jan Lundberg, Ph.D., executive vice president of science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories said in a statement. "The best therapies of the future will marry breakthrough scientific discovery with customer-friendly devices. That's what will make life better for people who need our medicines and give Lilly a true competitive edge."

Eli Lilly is actually one of the only big pharma companies that doesn't already have a presence in or around Boston. Amgen, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Johnson & Johnson all have Kendall Square offices and AstraZeneca is nearby in Waltham.

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