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Eli Lilly unveils new manufacturing plant for GLP-1 pens

CONCORD, N.C. — Eli Lilly (LLY) unveiled its newest manufacturing plant in Concord, N.C., Friday, which the company says will help relieve manufacturing bottlenecks for GLP-1 drugs.

The injectable drugs, Mounjaro for diabetes and Zepbound for weight loss, are two of Lilly’s hottest products in the past year, sending the company’s stock up nearly 100%.

The new 1 million-plus square foot facility will begin manufacturing the injectable pens in 2025. It’s part of an ongoing strategy to grow manufacturing to meet unprecedented demand.

Lilly and competitor Novo Nordisk (NVO) are the duopoly controlling the current GLP-1 market, and there is more demand than the companies combined can supply.

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Lilly CEO Dave Ricks recently told the Wall Street Journal the market would have to build 10 to 15 new facilities to meet current demand.

The company has already identified or started building seven facilities, investing $18 billion into the strategy, according to executive vice president Edgardo Hernandez.

Eli Lilly's new facility in Concord, North Carolina.
Eli Lilly's new facility in Concord, N.C. (Yahoo Finance)

The Concord facility alone has cost the company double its original investment, $2 billion instead of $1 billion.

Hernandez said the company built the Concord facility in two years, faster than the industry standard of nearly five years.

He credits the political will of North Carolina as well as the FDA’s willingness to work together in real time to ensure the company is building to the specifications the FDA requires in order to ensure a streamlined licensing process.

In addition, the company has built robotic capabilities into the process for faster manufacturing.

“We are using robots to interact with the equipment so that there’s less human intervention,” which also lowers contamination potential, Hernandez said.

Wall Street estimates the GLP-1 drugs could net the company $13.5 billion in 2024. That’s more than double the $5.2 billion it reported in 2023, which is also why the company raised its full-year 2024 guidance by $2 billion.

Anjalee Khemlani is the senior health reporter at Yahoo Finance, covering all things pharma, insurance, care services, digital health, PBMs, and health policy and politics. Follow Anjalee on all social media platforms @AnjKhem.

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