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Lilly to buy injectable drug plant in manufacturing ramp-up

Dive Brief:

  • Eli Lilly on Monday said it will acquire a drug plant from Nexus Pharmaceuticals to expand its manufacturing capacity for injectable medicines.
  • Located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, the facility spans 84,000 square feet and recently passed inspection by the Food and Drug Administration. It doesn’t currently provide any contract manufacturing services, so will be dedicated to making Lilly drugs, the company said.
  • Lilly expects production could begin by the end of next year. Reached by BioPharma Dive, a company spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company’s popular medicines for obesity and diabetes would be made at the site.

Dive Insight:

Lilly’s investment in new manufacturing capacity comes as demand has surged for its obesity medicine Zepbound, which is sold as Mounjaro for the treatment of diabetes.

Doses of both injectable drugs are currently in shortage through the end of June, according to a FDA database. Novo Nordisk’s rival obesity medicine Wegovy has limited availability, too, as the Danish drugmaker has also struggled to keep up with soaring prescription numbers.

Last November, Lilly announced a planned $2.5 billion investment in a new manufacturing plant to increase its injectable drug supply, one week after the FDA approved Zepbound for obesity. The new facility in Germany will build on expansions by Lilly of its locations in Indiana and North Carolina.

Demand for GLP-1 medicines like Zepbound and Wegovy could grow further as their makers prove the drugs’ benefit in a broader range of conditions. For example, in a recent study, Zepbound reduced sleep apnea events in people who are overweight or obese. Lilly said it plans by mid-year to ask for a label expansion from the FDA and other regulators.

Novo Nordisk has also been investing in manufacturing. In February, Novo’s controlling shareholder Novo Holdings agreed to take contract manufacturer Catalent private for $16.5 billion. In a related transaction, Novo Nordisk will pay its parent company $11 billion for three large Catalent plants.

Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat noted that the Catalent deal will give Novo more additional capacity than Lilly’s, but wrote that Lilly “may likely invest significantly more to build [the Nexus site] out further.”

Nexus claims on its website to have invested $100 million in the facility.