Eli Lilly & Co.

Eli Lilly and Company is an American pharmaceutical manufacturer based in Indiana and is one of the oldest drug companies in the world. Founded by a pharmacist, Eli Lilly introduced many innovations that made medicine easier to take such as gelatin capsules, sugar coatings and flavorings. It was the first producer of insulin and a major force in the U.S. pharmaceutical market, particularly in antibiotics and psychiatric medicines but has come under fire over the past several years due to injuries caused by some of its medications.

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Eli Lilly & Co. Overview

Eli Lilly & Co. is a U.S. pharmaceutical company founded and based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lilly employs about 34,000 people around the globe, with nearly 8,000 of those engaged in research and development of new drugs. The company reported revenue of nearly $25 billion in 2018 and markets products in 120 countries. Eli Lilly’s current focus is in the treatment of diabetes, immunologic disorders, cancer and other illnesses.

Eli Lilly History

Eli Lilly and Company is one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the world. It was founded in 1876 by a pharmacist, who was also a veteran of the Civil War. Colonel Eli Lilly was frustrated by the lack of appropriate and effective medications during that time. The first innovations developed by Eli Lilly and Company included gelatin coatings for pills and capsules, sugar coating for pills and flavorings for liquid medications making them easier to take.

The first employees of Eli Lilly & Co. were primarily members of the Lilly family – including Col. Lilly’s son Josiah who later became President of the company. Lilly son and grandsons each served as successive presidents of the company, keeping the management of Lilly within the family for over 100 years. The company mission was to develop pharmaceuticals of the highest quality and to promote management from within. Eli Lilly and Company went public in 1952 and expanded to locations in South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The first non-Lilly CEO was hired in 1993 after the company’s first quarterly loss.

Eli Lilly was originally known for its quality medications and hired its entire promotional staff from a pool of pharmacists to ensure that the sales representatives were well versed in pharmacology and chemistry of the medications they were detailing.

Eli Lilly is credited with the development of insulin to treat diabetes, became a major producer of antibiotics and anti-infectives, and expanded into animal health with the development of a veterinary division, Elanco. Lilly has since expanded into central nervous system, oncology, hematology and cardiac medications, while maintaining a large presence in the diabetes market.

Lily has been involved in a number of acquisitions and mergers as well as co-marketing agreements. Some of Lilly’s products have been highly successful including well-known medications such as the insulin line and other medications for diabetes, penicillin and cephalosporin antibiotics such as Keflex and Ceclor, anti-depressants such as Prozac and Cymbalta and recently, medications for erectile dysfunction (ED) such as Cialis, a testosterone product Axiron and an antipsychotic medication Zyprexa.

Though many of Lilly’s products have been highly successful, some of the medications have been shown to cause serious injury, leaving Eli Lilly facing a number of lawsuits involving those medications. In 2018, Eli Lilly and Company reported nearly $25 billion billion in global revenue.

Eli Lilly Current Products

Eli Lilly currently produces, markets or distributes over 39 drugs in the US, with several drugs in the top 100. The top selling drug, Trulicity, a medication used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes had estimated sales of just over $4.1 billion in 2019. Lilly’s other diabetes medications including insulin products Humalog and Humulin, along with other antidiabetics such as Jardiance, Tradjenta and Trulicity make up a substantial portion of annual revenue.

Currently marketed products include:

  • Trulicity (dulaglutide)
  • Humalog (insulin lispro)
  • Alimta (pemetrexed)
  • Forteo (teriparatide)
  • Taltz (ixekizumab)
  • Humulin (human insulin)
  • Basaglar (insulin glargine)
  • Jardiance (empagliflozin)
  • Cyramza (ramucirumab)
  • Cialis (tadalafil)

A number of medications historically produced by Lilly have caused serious injury and could be the subject of medical injury lawsuits.

Eli Lilly Lawsuits

Eli Lilly faces a number of lawsuits for multiple products, some of which have resulted in settlements of thousands of dollars for the victims. Notable Eli Lilly lawsuits include:

Actos – produced by the Japanese pharmaceutical company, Takeda. Actos (pioglitazone), used for diabetes, was co-marketed by Eli Lilly from 1999 to 2009 in the US. Both companies faced thousands of lawsuits for injuries such as congestive heart failure and bladder cancer. Learn more here.

Byetta – originally produced in conjunction with Amylin Pharmaceuticals and used for diabetes. Exenatide, the active ingredient may have caused pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Lilly is no longer in partnership with Amylin but both companies faced multiple lawsuits stemming to pre-2011 use and similar lawsuits have been filed for a next generation product, Bydureon.

Zyprexa – Lilly was the subject of the largest criminal fine in pharmaceutical history for its illegal marketing of olanzapine for dementia and pediatric use when it was approved for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults. Lilly paid $1.42 billion in criminal penalties and civil lawsuits. Another $62 million has been paid to litigants in 32 states and more lawsuits are pending.

Prozac – one of the most famous drugs of all-time. Prozac was attributed with a high risk of suicide and Eli Lilly paid over $50 million by the year 2000 for multiple lawsuits regarding Prozac use. In addition, Prozac use is suspected of causing birth defects in pregnant women, though the company has not admitted to liability in lawsuits that claim Prozac birth defects.

Symbyax – a combination of the active ingredients in Prozac and Zyprexa. Lilly faced a number of unsuccessful lawsuits for claims of birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, anencephaly, spina bifida and club foot.

Axiron – testosterone replacement therapy has been linked to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clot development, and death. Axiron is the second best-selling testosterone product on the market and many manufacturers of testosterone replacement products are facing hundreds of lawsuits regarding injury and death. About 400 Axiron lawsuits against Eli Lilly were settled in December of 2017.

Cymbalta – used to treat depression. Cymbalta has been shown to cause severe withdrawal effects in some patients. Lilly has been accused of misleading consumers and the medical community about the likelihood and severity of possible withdrawal effects. Lilly faced a number of lawsuits regarding Cymbalta withdrawal and class action lawsuits filed by people who claimed the company misrepresented the drug. A settlement may have been reached; however, terms have not been disclosed.

Jardiance – an SGLT2 inhibitor medication used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Jardiance and similar medications have been linked to an increased risk of ketoacidosis, kidney disease, cardiac problems and other injuries to the extremities or genitalia. Though most SGLT2 lawsuits have been filed against other manufacturers, Eli Lilly may be facing hundreds of Jardiance lawsuits, many of which have been consolidated in federal court but have yet to be settled.

Though notable lawsuits have not been filed for other Lilly drugs such as Effient, Strattera, Cialis and Tradjenta, these drugs belong to classes of medications that have caused serious injury and resulted in lawsuits.

Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.