SEATTLE, Nov. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) today announced that it is providing more than $4 million in additional funding to the Infectious Disease Research Institute. The funding will allow IDRI to continue its early phase drug discovery efforts focused on identifying new and better therapies in the fight against tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant strains known as MDR-TB. In addition, Lilly will provide more than $1 million in-kind for volunteer time from Lilly scientists and access to the company's drug discovery expertise, chemical libraries, and research tools.
These additional commitments bring Lilly's total support of early stage TB drug discovery efforts through IDRI to more than $20 million – and Lilly's total funding of TB and MDR-TB efforts to more than $170 million.
IDRI is a member of the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative, a not-for-profit public-private partnership focused on accelerating early stage drug discovery for potential new treatments for TB. TB and MDR-TB disproportionately affect people in countries with developing economies.
"While preventable and treatable, nearly 1.5 million people die from TB and MDR-TB every year," said John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., Eli Lilly and Company chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Today's TB drugs are decades old and must be taken for extended periods of time, which present challenges for patients and health care providers. More effective medicines with fewer side effects are desperately needed."
Lechleiter will address the company's new funding commitment to IDRI on Friday morning during a speech at the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA) meeting in Bellevue. During his speech, Lechleiter also will address multiple other issues important to the biopharmaceutical industry, including public policies supporting an environment that stimulates medical innovation.
Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative
The Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative was created in 2007 to accelerate early stage drug discovery by bringing together specialists from around the world for the systematic exploration of vast, private molecular libraries in search of new TB treatments.
Located within IDRI's base in Seattle, the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative involves representatives of government agencies, philanthropic organizations, pharmaceutical companies, universities, and other research institutions. Its most important goal is filling the pipeline with future TB drugs.
Lilly provided $15 million to launch and support the effort for a five-year period. Included in Lilly's initial funding was $9 million in-kind – including fully equipped high-throughput screening and chemistry laboratories, research tools, and scientific and technical expertise – plus $6 million in cash to seed the organization. In addition to this initial funding, Lilly provided access to a library of compounds – which has now grown to more than 800,000 compounds.
Today's announcement of an additional $4.2 million in funding will allow IDRI to further its early phase drug discovery efforts focused on TB and MDR-TB through 2016.
Steven Reed, president, chief scientific officer and founder of IDRI said, "We are excited that Lilly is extending its support of our TB drug discovery program. It's a real vote of confidence in the quality of our scientists' work and the productivity of our collaborations."
Lilly's Evolving Role in the Fight against TB
In 1996, the nonprofit organization Partners in Health began pioneering work that demonstrated cure rates of more than 80 percent could be achieved for patients with MDR-TB using several drugs, including two Lilly antibiotics that the company had planned to stop manufacturing.
Lilly began offering the two medicines at steep discounts to countries facing MDR-TB outbreaks, increased its own production capacity and began freely transferring its manufacturing technology to local manufacturers in countries hit hardest by the disease.
This work officially evolved into The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership in 2003, becoming one of Lilly's signature corporate responsibility programs. Lilly originally committed $70 million to launch the partnership, elevate MDR-TB on the global health agenda, and transfer the company's technology. In 2007, Lilly expanded the duration and scope for the MDR-TB partnership by committing an additional $50 million to the collaboration to complete the technology transfer and strengthen awareness, prevention, and care for patients who suffer from MDR-TB. In October 2011, Lilly announced it would commit an additional $30 million to The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership to provide training for healthcare workers and to improve supply and access to safe, effective, and quality-assured second-line drugs.
Recognizing that new treatment options were needed, the company also launched the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative in 2007 to spur early drug discovery efforts. Including today's announcement, Lilly has now committed more than $170 million to the global fight against TB and MDR-TB.
"Our financial contribution is small compared to the billions of dollars needed to fight TB and MDR-TB," said Lechleiter. "We cannot solve this global challenge alone, but – given our unique experience and capabilities – we will continue to play an important role as a catalyst."
About TB and MDR-TB
TB is caused by airborne bacteria that can spread to any organ of the body, but most often is found in the lungs. Symptoms may include severe and prolonged coughing, fever, weight loss, chest pain, and night sweats. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines MDR-TB as resistance to at least two first line anti-TB medicines. This type of TB often develops in patients who do not complete treatment for regular TB or who have failed first-line treatment.
About Eli Lilly and Company
Eli Lilly and Company, 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, USA, Eli Lilly and Company provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. CR-LLY
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