The insulin production facility in Indianapolis, US, will benefit from $180m (€140m) of investment by Eli Lilly which plans to add a second insulin-filling line and increase its API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) production capacity. The news comes just five months after the company announced a $140m insulin investment at the same site.
Edward Sagebiel, Senior Director of Global Corporate Communications at Lilly, told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that “these extremely important projects would prepare Lilly to meet the long-term demand created by the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the US.”
Furthermore, the drive, according to Sagebiel, comes from “the company’s commitment to provide a reliable supply” as it anticipates a “long-term demand” for insulin products.
This second investment is in line with Lilly’s strategy of doubling insulin capacity by 2017 without adding new facilities, as discussed with this publication last year. The plan – which is a move away from Lilly’s traditional outsourcing strategy - is designed to avoid the financial outlays on new plants by increasing flexibility at existing sites and equipping each diabetes facility with the capability to produce Lilly’s complete insulin offerings.
However, Sagebiel said this investment was focused specifically on Indianapolis. “We do have other insulin production facilities globally, but they will not be seeing any additional investment at this time.”
Approximately 175 jobs will be added to the workforce at the facility once operations begin which is estimated to be March 2014 for the API production area and 2017 for the insulin-cartridge filling line.
The commitment to support in-house insulin production will see the facility add a second insulin cartridge line to its US operations, following last November’s investment.
Insulin pens, which use prefilled-insulin cartridges, are “growing in popularity in the US” said Sagebiel and at present, only insulin vials are being filled at Lilly’s American sites. The pens offer users more flexibility and less pain over traditional syringes and can also help companies maintain sales despite competition from low-cost generics.
Recently there has been a lot of activity from drug companies who are looking to offer an easier, more convenient way of administering insulin for sufferers of diabetes and hyperglycaemia, including investments in auto-injectors by SHL, Biogen and Merck Serano.
Lilly is no stranger to alternative insulin delivery technologies as its European services already offer insulin cartridge filling. The plant in Strasbourg, France, for example, makes insulin-filled glass cartridges and combines them with sub-sets made by packaging manufacture, Rexam. Earlier this year an expansion at Rexam’s Lyon, France facility was led by Lilly as demand for insulin pens from insulin users increased.
Furthermore Lilly was involved in an ill-fated insulin inhaler which, along with a similar technology from Pfizer, was dropped in 2008 over concerns of safety.