The pharma industry has been striving to improve diabetics’ care by creating alternative drug delivery systems that will increase compliance and alleviate the need for daily injections.
Weekly administration using a pen device would mark a significant advance in the convenience of diabetes treatment and put the companies in a strong position in a lucrative market.
Lilly and Amylin were already working on a once weekly formulation of exenatide but following a patient survey opted to create a drug delivery device to improve the product.
Vince Mihalik, senior vice president of sales and marketing, and chief commercial officer at Amylin, said: "The agreement for an exenatide once weekly pen device underscores our commitment to enhance the user experience for patients with type 2 diabetes.
"While our DURATION-1 patient questionnaire results showed that the delivery system used in clinical trials was well accepted by patients, we continue to look for ways to enhance delivery and offer patients a range of choices through alternative delivery possibilities."
The pen will have pre-filled dual chambers that allow the patient to mix and administer the exenatide and will replace the vials and syringes previously used in Phase I and II trials.
Details of the deal
Under the terms of the agreement the companies will provide an initial capital investment of $216m (€162m), with 60 per cent of this provided by Lilly. Sales and marketing rights in the US will be shared, with Lilly having sole responsibility for the product in other markets.
The development and manufacture of the pens is being performed by Amylin, with the biotech providing unlabelled versions to Lilly for marketing outside the US.
No plans to buy Amylin
Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter appears to have ruled out the possibility of acquiring Amylin, telling Reuters: "We like the relationship just the way it is now."
Speculation about the possibility of a sale grew after it became clear that Amylin shareholder Carl Ichan was willing to sell if an offer over $30 a share was made.