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Lilly’s older drugs face more price pressure than newer ones

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(Bloomberg) — Eli Lilly & Co.’s older drugs are more prone to price pressure than its newest ones, a company executive said Friday on a call with investors.

Drugmakers face raised scrutiny from patients, health insurers and politicians over the high cost of prescription medicine. Yet Indianapolis-based Lilly’s comments make clear that its customers are willing to pay up for the most innovative treatments even as the industry faces pushback on price increases on older therapies.

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For example Humalog, the company’s fast-acting insulin, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996. Most of the growth in the last three years has been through market share, where the company gained 9 percentage points, versus price, which rose 1 percent to 2 percent a year, Lilly Vice President Mike Mason told investors.

“With our new products, I think, the pressures are a little bit different than that and we continue to get good growth,” Mason said.

Diabetes has become a backbone of the company’s revenue since losing patent protection on two blockbusters, the antidepressant Cymbalta and the antipsychotic Zyprexa.

One of Lilly’s newest drugs, the diabetes pill Jardiance, received FDA approval in 2014 and is sold in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, which is based in Ingelheim am Rhein in Germany. The company is waiting to hear from the FDA later this year about whether it can add a claim to the drug’s label that it can reduce the risk of cardiac events and death, after a study found that some patients had a 38 percent lower chance of dying while on the drug.

The claim would give it an advantage over other drugs that don’t have such data behind them.


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