Eli Lilly & Co (US)

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Eli Lilly & Co is a leading global pharmaceutical company with a particular strength in neuroscience, diabetes and more recently oncology treatments. The group has enjoyed considerable success with anti-depressants such as Cymbalta, and is perhaps best-known for Prozac, a miracle drug which revolutionised the treatment of depression during the 1980s and 1990s. However, it has suffered steep declines in sales of these products as a result of patent expiries. Current top-sellers include diabetes products such as Humalog and Viagra rival Cialis. Unlike many of its main rivals, Lilly has no exposure currently to the over-the-counter consumer healthcare sector, but it does have a strong position in animal healthcare, where its Lilly Elanco division is the global #2.

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th April 2016: Figures from Kantar reveal that US pharmaceutical advertising jumped by 19% in 2015 to $5.4bn, overturning a steady decline over the past decade. That figure matches the previous high, set in 2006. Top spender was AbbVie's Humira with a media outlay estimated at a staggering $357m, a huge year-on-year increase ahead of looming patent expiry. There was a similar last gasp for Pfizer's Lyrica, which loses patent protection in 2018. It spent $328m. Pfizer and BMS's Eliquis came 3rd at $249m ahead of Lilly's Cialis with $222m. Pfizer's Xeljanz rounded out the top five at $183m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Jun 2015: Nielsen released figures for the most advertised pharmaceutical brands of 2014. Combined drug spending soared to $4.5bn, the highest level since the 2008/09 recession, and just the top ten spenders alone accounted for around 40% of that sum, or $1.8bn. Eli Lilly's Cialis toppled last year's leader AbbVie's Humira to take the top spot with spend of almost $249m. Erectile dysfunction rival Viagra, from Pfizer, was the #4 spender at $211m. Pfizer's Lyrica for nerve pain moved up to #2 while Eliquis, a blood thinner joint venture with BMS was #3 at $219m. Humira was still among the top five at $203m. Five other drugs spent between $100m and $200m during the year.

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Free to all users: Lilly is one of America's oldest drug companies, first founded in 1876 by Colonel Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical chemist and Civil War veteran. Under Josiah Lilly, the founder's son, the company was a pioneer in the introduction of gelatin-coated pills in the 1880s and also one of the first companies to employ a full-time scientist to develop and test new compounds. 

In the 1920s, the company acquired commercial rights to a process discovered by two researchers at the University of Toronto to isolate and purify insulin as a treatment for diabetes, until then a fatal disease with no effective treatment. It launched the first commercially available insulin product in 1923 under the name Iletin, and established its first international office in the UK in 1934. Along with several other US manufacturers Lilly mass-produced penicillin in the 1940s, and later broadened its involvement in antibiotics with the introduction of erythromicin in the 1950s. The company floated in 1950s under the control of Eugene Beesley, the first non-family-member to lead the business. Later, Ceclor, introduced in the 1970s, became the world's best-selling oral antibiotic, giving Lilly a leading position in that market for several years. The company also moved into cosmetics, acquiring Elizabeth Arden in 1971. (The business was sold to Faberge in 1987). However Lilly ran into several problems in the early 1980s as the patents on several of its antibiotics expired and it was forced to pull anti-arthritic drug Oraflex off the market after it was linked to patient deaths. 

Two products helped to restore the group's fortunes. The company significantly strengthened its diabetes treatment portfolio with the launch in 1982 of Humulin, the first product to mimic the insulin produced naturally by normally functioning humans, and the first genetically engineered medicine to be marketed commercially. But the company's most successful product was Prozac, which represented a breakthrough in the treatment of clinical depression. Introduced in 1987, it worked by inhibiting the reabsorption of serotonin, a naturally produced chemical used by the brain to send signals between nerve cells. Prozac was not only effective against a wide variety of anxiety-related disorders, but was also far less toxic than earlier forms of antidepressants, significantly reducing the risk of overdosing as well as other side effects. As an added benefit, it caused patients to lose weight without actively dieting. Widely recognised as a miracle drug of the decade, Prozac became the world's most widely prescribed antidepressant, used by more than 35m people between 1988 and 2000. 

However that success eventually led to a series of legal challenges from generic manufacturers, which led to the reduction of Prozac's patent term from 2003 to 2001. Sales of Prozac declined sharply as a result of competition, and the company suffered a further setback when its follow-up failed in clinical trials. Other products continued to perform well in the meantime, and heavy investment in research and development led to the introduction of a series of new products in 2003 and 2004. See full profile for current activities

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