Eli Lilly’s chief scientist on new obesity drug data, gene editing, and a potential new heart drug

PHILADELPHIA — In a sense, the annual meeting of the American Heart Association wasn’t a huge one for Eli Lilly. Its biggest news was about a very early study of a drug to lower blood levels Lp(a), a protein related to cholesterol that is mainly being watched by lipidologists and drug company analysts.

But in another way, the future of Lilly, now the biggest drug company by market capitalization, hung in the balance. Why? Because researchers were presenting data on the ability of Novo Nordisk’s obesity drug Wegovy to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and deaths in people with overweight who have established cardiovascular disease. That has big implications for the market for Lilly’s own obesity drug, Zepbound, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last week, and for the company’s future efforts in obesity.


STAT sat down with Lilly’s chief scientific officer, Dan Skovronsky, at the AHA meeting to talk about the obesity drugs known as GLP-1s, the new Lp(a) drug, and the company’s partnership with the gene editing firm Verve. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

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