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Pharmaceuticals

Lilly Ramps Up Diabetes Efforts

March 24, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 12

Eli Lilly & Co. has licensed a new class of diabetes drugs from Toronto-based Transition Therapeutics. The deal gives Lilly the right to develop Transition's gastrin-based therapies, including a compound in Phase II trials. Lilly will fork over $7 million up front, and could pay up to $130 million in milestones if any gastrin-based drugs are commercialized. The Transition pact is part of a larger Lilly effort to prepare for generic competition on several key diabetes products in coming years. The Indianapolis-based drug major's diabetes program took a hit recently when it discontinued development of an inhaled insulin product. Last week, Lilly's inhaled insulin partner, Alkermes, said it would cut its workforce by 18%, about 150 people, and close a plant in Chelsea, Mass., in response to the program's halt.

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