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Lilly CEO Lechleiter Outlines Opportunities for Improved Health and Economic Growth in Asia-Pacific Region

HONOLULU, Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., today said new trade agreements, effective public policies, and continued collaboration to bring innovation to patients are needed to assure improved health and economic prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lechleiter's comments come as the United States hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Honolulu.  The 21 members economies of APEC include one-third of the world's population and 55 percent of the world's GDP. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. exports go to APEC economies, and seven of America's top 15 trading partners are in APEC.  

"I am excited to attend this summit because it is such a positive vehicle for U.S. business and policy engagement with these important nations," said Lechleiter.  "As a leader of a major U.S. biopharmaceutical company, I am encouraged by APEC leaders' increasing focus on improving health care as a vital component of their plan to reinvigorate economic growth in the APEC region."  

Lechleiter will participate in the summit's opening panel discussion with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and Dennis Nally, CEO of PwC, which will examine how companies and policymakers are transforming their expectations of the future as the Asia-Pacific region changes.

In connection with his role in the panel discussion, Lechleiter outlined three major areas of opportunity for improved health and economic growth in the region:

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

In the past, APEC has played an integral role in the trade debate, developing the structural framework for agreements throughout the region. One such agreement currently being negotiated is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was announced at the APEC Leaders meeting two years ago. This regional free-trade agreement includes the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Other countries, including Japan, may join the partnership as well, further increasing the economic importance of the TPP.  

"U.S. engagement with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region must be a vital part of any national strategy for re-igniting our economy," said Lechleiter.  "Yet, U.S. economic engagement with the region has been declining over the last decade. While our competitors in Europe and elsewhere have increased their presence and, in some cases, have signed new free trade agreements in Asia, we have fallen behind – suffering the loss of trade and significance in the region.  We simply cannot let this happen."

Trade supports 38 million U.S. jobs – more than one in five – with nearly 18 million relying on transactions with America's current free trade agreement partners.  "We need to build on that strength, taking advantage of this week's APEC summit to make substantial progress towards conclusion of the TPP.  But as with any trade deal, it needs to be done right," Lechleiter said.  

Intellectual-Property Protection

According to Lechleiter, adopting a stronger intellectual-property protection system is essential to creating a more robust, innovative health care sector that continues to drive economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

"U.S. companies are the world's leading innovators and creators, and by continuing to nourish and protect our IP-reliant industries, we can help drive economic growth at home and abroad," said Lechleiter.  

"A system that supports strong intellectual property protection in the Asia-Pacific region is essential for increasing U.S. companies' ability to export," said Lechleiter. "High standards of intellectual property protection are especially critical to innovative industries, such as the biopharmaceutical industry."  

He noted that industries that center on intellectual property employ more than 19 million Americans and account for some 60 percent of total U.S. exports.

Innovation and Collaboration to Address NCDs

Addressing the impact of non-communicable disease (NCDs) in the developing world will require a two-pronged approach that emphasizes both innovation and strategic partnerships.  

"Non-communicable diseases – including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes – are by far the leading cause of death in the Asia-Pacific region and the world," Lechleiter said. He cited a number of compelling figures:

  • Of the 57 million deaths globally in 2008, 36 million, or 63 percent, were due to NCDs.
  • Some 80 percent of all NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • While the increase in NCDs reflects in part the aging of world populations, one in four who died from NCDs in 2008 (9 million people) was under the age of 60.

Lechleiter noted that the cost of NCDs is economic as well as human. "As this scourge of premature death and disability takes lives, it also destroys opportunities and has profound economic consequences – adding to poverty, halting development, and weakening communities."  

He commended the APEC economies on their recent endorsement of the APEC Action Plan to Reduce the Economic Burden of NCDs, which guides APEC economies as they implement new programs and initiatives to prevent and mitigate NCDs.

"There will be no single solution to the challenge of NCDs – the work of finding and implementing effective approaches will be as complex as the diseases themselves," Lechleiter said. "By making the investments to find and deliver the next wave of innovative medicines, research-based companies can play a critical role in the strategy against NCDs. Public, private, and non-governmental partnerships endorsed by APEC must also be an integral element of any plan."  

About Eli Lilly and Company

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at  C-LLY


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