Lilly unveils plans for doubling emerging-markets sales

When it comes to growth in emerging markets, Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is taking a three-pronged approach--and it hopes to turn in a trifecta. The company is aiming to double its sales in the developing world within five years, taking advantage of the spectacular growth forecasted for those countries, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The three prongs, according to SVP and emerging-markets chief Jacques Tapiero, include maximizing the number of Lilly products available in emerging markets, both on-patent and off-patent drugs. Prong number two involves bringing drugs from other companies into the fold via licensing deals or other arrangements. And third is making strategic acquisitions that take Lilly into market segments where it's currently weaker.

Obviously, the company will be jockeying for position with other Big Pharma firms trying to capitalize on emerging-markets growth. GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, Bayer ... the list goes on and on. But Lilly has a track record in the developing world; it has already doubled sales in those markets once, to $2 billion annually over the past five years.

And the company is well on its way to staffing up for an emerging-markets push: Tapiero said Lilly has doubled its sales and marketing staff in China to about 2,000 folks. And if our math is correct, based on last year's announcement of Chinese hiring plans, the recruiting in that country isn't over yet. Will we soon see Lilly licensing deals or buyouts there, too?

- check out the WSJ story