Protein C: Saving Lives, Saving Lilly
Benefiting from lessons learned during the more than two decades of futile efforts to develop a sepsis treatment, Lilly is primed to launch the first sepsis therapeutic. Lilly's apparent success reflects a revised view of the disease as multi-factorial in nature, involving not only the body's inflammatory processes--long thought to be at the heart of the disease--but also its interlocking coagulation and clot-busting systems. Zovant's development is also marked by a series of business decisions that could have long-term implications for the company, including a renewed commitment to large molecule drugs and the creation of a critical care business. Critical care pharmaceuticals and protein therapeutics are, in many ways, complementary pursuits for Lilly that could help the company maintain its independence by generating big money products that won't require the huge commercialization costs associated with mass-marketed drugs.
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Eli Lilly & Co. announced Oct. 25 that it is ending its ten-year relationship with Xigris, withdrawing the sepsis drug from all markets and ceasing further clinical trials.
In this era of health care reform, critical care medicine remains a strong market for innovative technologies that can improve patient outcomes, shorten ICU stays, and ultimately reduce the overall cost of care. Within this space, one segment that is ripe for innovation is the market for severe sepsis products.Although the last 20 years have seen advances in treatment and a marked increase in the understanding of sepsis and septic shock, severe sepsis remains one of the most significant challenges in critical care today.
When Eli Lilly licensed the follow-on drug candidate to sepsis treatment Xigris to Cardiome, it was a tacit acknowledgment that this family of specialist products may be better suited to biotech. Perhaps they should have done the same with Xigris.