- Eli Lilly is expanding its production capacity this year for diabetes and weight-loss injectable drugs as demand for the products outpaces supply, executives said on an earnings call Tuesday.
- The Indiana-based drugmaker’s EVP and CFO Anat Ashkenazi said she expects production for its diabetes drugs at its Concord, North Carolina, manufacturing site to begin as early as the end of 2024, with products available to ship in 2025.
- The Concord plant will produce Eli Lilly’s revenue-driving drugs, Zepbound and Mounjaro. Lilly said the latter could receive an expanded approval as a weight-loss treatment later this year.
Booming demand in the GLP-1 weight-loss drug category has been outpacing supply ever since the drugs have come online, and Eli Lilly is racing to make production catch up.
In the Q4 earnings call, Eli Lilly said that it will continue to expand supply every quarter, but expects the most significant production increases to come in the second half of the year.
“We expect our production of sellable doses in the second half of 2024 will be at least one and a half times the production in the second half of 2023,” Ashkenazi said in the call.
However, Eli Lilly noted the complexity of ramping up capacity, especially at its Concord facility, which was initially announced two and a half years ago.
“Well, of course, greenfield building is difficult, repurposing is difficult, but also these are technically complex facilities. There's not an infinite number of people who know how to set them up,” David Ricks, Eli Lilly's Chairman, CEO and president, said in the call.
To keep up with demand, Eli Lilly is also building a new $2.5B manufacturing plant in Germany to increase capacity for its weight-loss treatment Zepbound and diabetes shot Mounjaro. Construction on the site will begin this year and be operational in 2027.
A constrained supply chain is also making things difficult for drugmakers, including Eli Lilly competitors like Novo Nordisk and partners like Catalent.
“Even the purchaser or our competitors said it will take many years for them to be able to increase capacity within that purchase," Ricks said. "So it's just not an easy problem to solve. I think that over time, it will ease.”
Eli Lilly currently manufactures weight-loss drugs with contract drugmaker Catalent, which announced plans on Monday to be acquired by Novo Holdings, the controlling shareholder of Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk.
“Our focus today is on ensuring that the continuity of supply of medicine for patients is uninterrupted as well as we intend on holding Catalent accountable to their contract with us as we look and we gain more information on this proposed transaction,” Ashkenazi said in the call.