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Lilly to invest $200M in Puerto Rico insulin production

Eli Lilly's plant in Guayama is one of two manufacturing facilities it has on the island.

Eli Lilly’s plant in Guayama is one of two manufacturing facilities it has on the island.

In response to the growing diabetes epidemic and increasing demand for insulin around the world, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. announced Thursday it will invest more than $700 million to enhance its insulin manufacturing capacity in Puerto Rico, France and China, as well as in its Indianapolis global headquarters.

Officials said $200 million of that amount will be pumped into its Puerto Rico operations in Carolina over the next two years to expand insulin-active-ingredient and delivery device manufacturing capacity.

“This investment will increase our manufacturing capacity, as well as provide employment opportunities and specialized services required during the construction phase,” said María Crowe, president of Lilly’s Global Manufacturing Operations, during a news conference called by Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla and other government officials at La Fortaleza Thursday afternoon.

“Although this is an investment to strengthen its competitiveness and, therefore, does not involve a formal commitment to increase its workforce at this plant, Lilly anticipates that construction work can create up to 400 temporary employment opportunities for two years and up to 100 indirect jobs once the plant expansion is completed,” García-Padilla said.

Lilly, established in Puerto Rico since 1965, has some 1,600 employees at its Carolina and Guayama plants, as well as its other businesses on the island. In Puerto Rico, the company manufactures pharmaceutical products such as Cymbalta, Cialis, Evista, Strattera, Symbyax, Zyprexa and engages in bulk production for Humalog, Forteo and Humatrope.

“With the expansion of [the Carolina] plant, Lilly will meet the increasing global demand for insulin and may manufacture new products related to the treatment of diabetes,” the governor said.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes is a significant and growing global problem, with high and increasing costs to society and to individuals. The IDF also noted that all types of diabetes are on the rise, with the number of people with type 2 diabetes increasing most dramatically.

“Insulin is a cornerstone of diabetes treatment and its use will only continue to increase given the rising number of people with diabetes around the world,” said Enrique Conterno, senior vice president and president, Lilly Diabetes. “Since introducing the first commercially available insulin 90 years ago, Lilly has helped address the global diabetes burden, and today’s announcement further underscores our deep commitment to diabetes care.”

In addition to committing to investments in manufacturing, the company is investing heavily in diabetes research. Lilly currently has 14 new molecular entities in clinical development, including three under regulatory review and another in Phase III, for the treatment of diabetes and related complications.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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