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Eli Lilly invests to increase Mounjaro, Zepbound supply

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An injection pen of Zepbound, Eli Lilly’s weight loss drug, is displayed in New York City, U.S., December 11, 2023. 

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

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Eli Lilly on Friday said it is investing another $5.3 billion in a manufacturing plant in Lebanon, Indiana to boost supply of its highly popular weight loss drug Zepbound, diabetes treatment Mounjaro and other medicines.

Demand for those treatments has far outpaced supply over the last year, spurring shortages in the U.S. and forcing the pharmaceutical giant to invest heavily to scale up its manufacturing.

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That new commitment brings Eli Lilly’s total investment at the site to $9 billion. That makes it Eli Lilly’s largest manufacturing investment in its nearly 150-year history, the company’s CEO David Ricks said in a statement.

Eli Lilly expects the Lebanon site to start making medicines toward the end of 2026, and scale up operations through 2028. The company first announced its plans to build new Indiana sites in 2022. 

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The plant will specifically increase Eli Lilly’s capacity to manufacture the active ingredient in Zepbound and Mounjaro, called tirzepatide. The company refers to those treatments as incretin drugs, which mimic certain gut hormones to suppress a person’s appetite and regulate blood sugar. 

“This multi-site campus will make our latest medicines, including Zepbound and Mounjaro, support pipeline growth and leverage the latest technology and automation for maximum efficiency, safety and quality control,” Ricks said in a statement.

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Eli Lilly said 900 employees, including engineers, scientists, operating personnel and lab technicians, will staff the site when it is fully operational.

The company has spent more than $18 billion to build, expand and purchase manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Europe since 2020.

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Eli has several manufacturing sites either “ramping up or under construction,” Eli Lilly Chief Financial Officer Anat Ashkenazi told investors during an earnings call last month. That includes the Lebanon plant and another Indiana site, two locations in North Carolina, one in Ireland, one in Germany and a seventh site the company recently acquired from Nexus Pharmaceuticals. 

Investors cheered Eli Lilly after the company hiked its full-year revenue outlook by $2 billion, in part due to confidence about increased production of Zepbound, Mounjaro and other incretin drugs for the rest of the year.

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“Now that we’re four months into the year, we have greater visibility into that, into these nodes of capacity and feel more confident,” Ashkenazi said during the call.

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