Eli Lilly & Co. is deep into what Chief Executive John C. Lechleiter calls the “toughest year” in the drug maker’s 138-year history. Revenue at Lilly has plunged because of generic competition that followed patent expirations for several of its top-selling drugs, including the antidepressant Cymbalta.
The 61-year-old Dr. Lechleiter, meanwhile, faced one of his own toughest years in 2013: He took a two-month medical leave to undergo and recover from surgery to repair a damaged aorta.
Dr. Lechleiter, who joined Lilly as a chemist in 1979 and took over as CEO in 2008, says both he and Lilly are on the mend. The company has received regulatory approval to sell three new drugs—two for diabetes and one for gastric cancer—and has more experimental drugs in late-stage clinical testing.
In an interview at company headquarters in Indianapolis, the CEO talked about challenges facing Lilly and the health-care industry, including his desire for corporate tax reforms, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on pharmaceutical makers.
By Peter Loftus