Lilly CEO Calls for Shift in Thinking on Health Reform

Friday, March 26, 2010 Press Release
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FRANKFURT, March 25 In an address to the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany today, John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company, said that innovation holds the key to solving one of healthcare's thorniest dilemmas: how to improve quality and access while controlling costs. He described how innovative medicines - which have helped dramatically increase lifespans of both Germans and Americans over the past century - could further improve people's health, replace more expensive treatments, and provide strong economic benefits by generating thousands of research jobs.

Lechleiter called on societies to rethink healthcare reform with two shifts in thinking: "From an emphasis on cost to an understanding of value ... and from thinking in terms of the broad population to focusing on meeting the needs of individual patients."

Lechleiter explained that focusing exclusively on the cost of specific treatments can have the unintended effect of increasing health care spending over time. He cited examples of pharmaceuticals that can reduce overall costs to society, from antiretroviral medicines that decrease costs for treating HIV/AIDS by 16 percent in the U.S. to "statin" medications that can prevent or delay heart disease, enhancing lives while reducing the impact of spending on surgeries and hospitalizations.

"New medicines to provide better treatment for the pandemic of diabetes, to alleviate the growing human and economic toll of Alzheimer's disease or to address countless other unmet medical needs around the world could have dramatic positive impacts not only on the quality human life, but also on the capacity of our health care systems and the costs they incur," said Lechleiter.

Addressing the second shift in thinking, Lechleiter said that advances in science are enabling researchers to move beyond "one-size-fits-all medicines" to increasingly "tailor" therapies to help individual patients.

"From the point of view of patients and their doctors, a tailored therapy will provide a better benefit/risk profile, because they can have a higher degree of confidence that it will work effectively and without harmful side-effects," said Lechleiter. "And from a value-for-money standpoint, more-tailored therapeutics should also reduce the heavy costs associated with non-responders."

In addition to improving health and lower costs, Lechleiter highlighted the economic benefits of pharmaceutical research, which in Germany currently provides more than 100,000 jobs, generates exports surpassing 40 billion Euros, and accounts for more than 10 percent of all R&D investments in the country.

Lechleiter also weighed in on current proposals in Germany calling for mandatory negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and the country's sick funds. He expressed Lilly's support of contracting options that focus on improving quality and efficiency of care but warned that mandatory contracting focused narrowly on cost and rebates will stunt the development of innovative new medicines.

He also noted that while prescription pharmaceuticals' access to the German market is better than in most European countries, market penetration of innovative products five years after introduction in Germany is among the lowest in Europe, implying that many newer medicines typically never reach the patients who could benefit from them.

Lechleiter concluded by saying that Lilly would continue to advocate for policies that will enable medical innovation to flourish.

"Innovation is not a panacea for the challenges facing our health care systems, but it is hard to see any way out of the current crisis - and I don't think that's too strong a word - without innovation. Indeed innovation needs to be the purpose of health care reforms in both the United States and Germany."

About Eli Lilly and Company

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers - through medicines and information - for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at

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SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company

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