Eli Lilly partners with generics maker Eva to boost insulin access in Africa

While much excitement surrounds Eli Lilly’s next-generation treatments for diabetes and obesity, there still is a need in much of the world for the company’s standard-issue insulin.

So a day after informing investors of the lucrative prospects of tirzepatide and retatrutide, Lilly revealed an arrangement that will help supply poorer nations with products to combat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

In a licensing agreement with generics drugmaker Eva Pharma of Egypt, Lilly will deliver active pharmaceutical ingredients at a reduced cost for its human and analogue insulin. Lilly also will provide a “pro-bono transfer” of the technology needed to formulate, fill and finish vials and cartridges.

Under the partnership, the distribution of insulin to middle- and low-income countries—most of them in Africa—is expected to begin in 18 months. The goal is to be able to supply insulin to 1 million diabetes patients annually by 2030.

The agreement is part of Lilly’s 30x30 initiative, which by 2030 aims to improve access to quality healthcare to 30 million people annually who live in poorer nations.

By 2045, the International Diabetes Federation expects the incidence of the disorder will grow by 129% in Africa, affecting 55 million. Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the Global Diabetes Compact, which works with companies to expand access to diabetes treatments.

“This is the starting point—the hope is to have insulin and diabetes devices as part of Essential Benefit Packages in low- and middle-income countries towards achieving universal health coverage,” Bente Mikkelsen, the WHO director for noncommunicable disease, said in a statement.

In 2020, Eva partnered with Gilead to supply COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir at a greatly reduced cost—roughly $500 as opposed to $5,000 in the U.S.—for a treatment course. While Gilead had similar agreements with other companies in India, Eva was the lone supplier of the drug in Africa, providing remdesivir to 127 countries on the continent and beyond.