Lilly still hungry for small-size buyouts

Don't count Eli Lilly out of the hunt for acquisitions. CEO John Lechleiter told the Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft over the weekend that he's open to smaller-sized buyouts, about the size of the Imclone deal two years ago. You'll recall that the Imclone buyout ran to $6.5 billion.

"We could imagine going for further smaller buys ... in related market areas such as biotechnology, diagnostics or in animal health," Lechleiter said in an interview with the newspaper (as quoted by Reuters).

Of course, Lilly had just announced its buyout of the biotech company Alnara Pharmaceuticals. And last month, the company made headlines for scouting deals in India. But like its Big Pharma colleagues, the company needs to keep buying--and diversifying--to help make up the shortfall it will see when big drugs go off patent. The biggie, Zyprexa, falls over the patent cliff at the end of next year, and it now accounts for $4.9 billion of Lilly's $21.8 billion in annual sales.

- read the Reuters story