An Eli Lilly executive recently referred to the demand for its diabetes drugs as “unprecedented.” The company may have to come up with another level descriptor if Mounjaro—which was approved seven months ago for Type 2 diabetes—adds an indication to treat obesity.
In anticipation, Lilly is gearing up its production capacity, planning a “substantial expansion around the 2025 time period,” Joe Fletcher, Lilly’s investor relations chief, said last week during the Evercore ISI HealthCONx Conference.
To accomplish the increase, Lilly will rely on internal production as well as contract manufacturing, Fletcher said.
“We’re doing it within the confines of our existing infrastructure and making that more efficient,” Fletcher noted. “We’re also leveraging more external manufacturing partners.”
A major boost in capacity is expected in 2025 when a massive facility in Concord, North Carolina, should be complete. The company broke ground on the $1 billion site this year, where it hopes to employ 600. Situated on 400 acres, the injectables facility will have room to grow as well.
Lilly already said it expects to double its capacity to produce diabetes treatments by the end of 2023. Much of that will be made possible by another plant it is building in North Carolina, a $470 million facility in the Research Triangle Park, which will come online sometime next year.
The company has seen demand grow as Danish rival Novo Nordisk has been beset with supply issues throughout this year for its diabetes meds Ozempic and Wegovy.
Lilly has done well to meet the demand with few hitches. In the third quarter, Trulicity generated sales of $1.85 billion, while Mounjaro pulled in another $187 million in its first full quarter on the market, obliterating the analyst consensus estimate of $81 million.
Now, the mission is to scale up while avoiding the pitfalls Novo Nordisk faced.
“To date our manufacturing operation has performed superbly,” Fletcher said. “The actual (output) so far this year has exceeded our internal plan. But we know we need to increase that capacity.”