Lilly expands diabetes production in commitment to U.S. manufacturing

Eli Lilly today announced an $85 million expansion of its diabetes med manufacturing as part of its $850 million in capital investments this year.

Eli Lilly CEO David A. Ricks today announced an $85 million expansion of Lilly diabetes med manufacturing operations in Indianapolis, just weeks after declaring the company's commitment to U.S. manufacturing during a meeting with President Trump.

The investment, the company said, is part of the $850 million Lilly will spend this year on U.S. capital projects that include investments in manufacturing sites, research laboratories and general and administrative areas, some new and some in progress, Ricks explained. The investments spanned both its human drug operations as well as its animal health businesses, a spokesman said in an email.

"As we have for our entire 140-year history, we continue to see Indiana and the United States as attractive places to research and make the medicines that we sell around the world," Ricks said in a statement.

One of the investments he pointed to is a new $140 million insulin cartridge production facility that was dedicated today but started under the previous White House administration. It is part of a 5-year investment by the company to expand its diabetes products manufacturing operations in the U.S.

Over that 5 years, the company has invested $1.1 billion on its diabetes manufacturing, boosting its U.S. manufacturing employment to 6,000, an increase of 1,000 jobs. That said, a spokesman explained today that no new jobs are tied to the $85 million expansion of the Trulicity device plant, although it will provide jobs for several hundred construction workers.

The new Lilly CEO was among a number of pharma and biotech execs that President Trump invited to the White House, including Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez, Merck & Co. Chief Kenneth Frazier and Celgene Chairman Robert Hugin, among others.

The meeting was wide-ranging, including discussions of the president’s intention to cut taxes and regulation but also his admonition to drugmakers to get drug prices down and to invest more in U.S. manufacturing. At that meeting, Ricks told the president that Lilly was hiring manufacturing workers in the U.S. "as we speak," while Amgen's CEO said his company would be adding 1,600 jobs in 2017.

Amgen and Lilly have each laid off more than 1,000 workers in recent years.

Ricks also has said he is encouraged by the Presidents talk of tax reform. But this week at the China Development Forum in that country, he offered up what might be seen as challenge to President Trump’s view on foreign trade, calling any promotion of deglobalization as “dangerous.”

 “Certainly our company has been consistently in favor of free trade and liberalization of all trade rules,” he said during an interview at the the meeting.