|CEO John Lechleiter|
Pharma executives often warn that this price cut or that government move will stymie innovation. They've been known to threaten cutbacks and pull-outs in response to policies they find unfavorable. Consider the industry's response to new German pricing rules or Spanish price cuts or Indian patent-stomping, to name a few.
But Eli Lilly ($LLY) CEO John Lechleiter has taken the lament to a new level. In a meeting with the Canadian newspaper The Globe & Mail, Lechleiter railed against court rulings that struck down three of Lilly's patents.
The loss of exclusivity on those drugs, including the ADHD treatment Strattera, cost Lilly more than $1 billion in Canadian sales and triggered at least 280 job cuts since 2006, Lechleiter told the paper's editorial board. "If that sort of pattern persists, it's not a question of would we stay in Canada, it's a question of would we have any business in Canada," Lechleiter said.
Lilly has, in fact, officially challenged a particular patent interpretation that's come up in Canadian courts. But as the Globe & Mail notes, Canadian patent rulings have fallen more or less in line with those in other countries, taken as a whole. And generic drugmakers in Canada counter Lilly's complaints with their own arguments.
One of the rulings Lilly is challenging is the loss of a patent on Zyprexa. That antipsychotic drug fell off patent in the U.S. in 2011, and it's lost more than $1 billion in sales since then. And it's just one of Lilly's patent-cliff drugs. So, Canadian patent rulings may not be the only reasons why Lilly cut jobs there.
- read the Globe & Mail piece