Injectable medications rank among Eli Lilly’s top-selling products. The Indianapolis drug giant is now scouting for new innovations in injectable medicine and it hopes to find them in its backyard.
Lilly (NYSE: LLY) announced Thursday that it is committing $52 million to a five-year research collaboration with Purdue University. Lilly says it wants to improve on the delivery of injectable medicine. The company adds that it hopes partnering with academic institutions will lead to ways to reduce the risks of investing in the very expensive process of drug development.
Purdue says the agreement with Lilly is the university’s largest partnership with a single company. The partnership follows the university’s announcement last year that it would invest $250 million in life sciences research over the next five years. That announcement included plans for new faculty hires and purchases of scientific instruments.
Injectable drugs currently comprise a sizeable portion of Lilly’s portfolio. Humalog, a fast-acting injectable insulin, was Lilly’s top seller in 2016, accounting for $2.7 billion of the company’s $21.2 billion in revenue. The company’s diabetes drug lineup also includes dulaglutide (Trulicity), a once-a-week injectable drug. That product generated $925 million in 2016 revenue. Besides developing these drugs, Lilly also developed devices that made it easier for patients to inject themselves.
Lilly did not specify what kind of innovations it is looking for, other than to say that it aims to ease the pain of injections, reduce their frequency, and improve on compliance with drugs that some patients are skittish about taking because they don’t like needles. Lilly and Purdue say that researchers from both institutions will work together across disciplines, and that the collaboration could expand into areas of collaboration beyond injectable medicine.