Pharma, BioPharma

Eli Lilly Pumps $5.3B More Into Site for Making Metabolic Meds Zepbound & Mounjaro

Eli Lilly says its capital commitment to its new Indiana site is the largest manufacturing investment in the company’s history. The site will make tirzepatide, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in both Zepbound and Mounjaro.

Eli Lilly is boosting its ability to meet growing demand for the metabolic disorder drugs Zepbound and Mounjaro, committing $5.3 billion toward the expansion of a site that will produce the main pharmaceutical ingredient in both medications.

Lilly broke ground on the Lebanon, Indiana, site in 2023. The expansion announced Friday brings Lilly’s total investment in the site to $9 billion. The company expects this facility will begin making medicines in late 2026.

Mounjaro, approved in 2022 for treating type 2 diabetes, has become a blockbuster seller with 2023 revenue totaling $5.1 billion. Zepbound was approved late last year for chronic weight management. Both medications are incretins, drugs that mimic a gut hormone to spark the metabolic effects of blood glucose regulation and appetite suppression. The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in these drugs is tirzepatide, a peptide engineered to activate the GLP-1 and GIP receptors. That’s different from Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster metabolic medications Ozempic and Wegovy, whose API is semaglutide, a peptide engineered to activate only the GLP-1 receptor.

Lilly’s Lebanon site is located in Indiana’s LEAP Research and Innovation District, whose more than 9,000 acres about 30 miles northwest of Indianapolis are being developed for advanced manufacturing, R&D operations, and corporate campuses. Lilly has 600 acres in the district.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is providing economic incentives for Lilly’s LEAP expansion. With the company committing to create 200 additional jobs at the site, the state is committing up to $500,000 in incentive-based training grants. The state also commits up to $20 million in redevelopment tax credits and $15 million in road infrastructure improvements. The pharma giant projects its Lebanon site will reach 900 full-time employees when fully operational. Based on that hiring projection, the state revised an Innovation Development District award that has an estimated value of $1.2 billion in tax rebates. All incentives are subject to final approvals from state officials.

Lilly began its metabolic medicines manufacturing push in 2020, ahead of the 2022 approval of Mounjaro in type 2 diabetes. Besides its investments in its home-state of Indiana, the company is also building new manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. In Europe, it is investing in manufacturing capacity in Germany and Ireland. Lilly also recently acquired a Nexus Pharmaceuticals injectable manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. The company said that these manufacturing investments total more than $18 billion.

“Today’s announcement tops the largest manufacturing investment in our company’s history and, we believe, represents the single largest investment in synthetic medicine API manufacturing in U.S. history,” Lilly CEO David Ricks said in a prepared statement. “This multi-site campus will make our latest medicines, including Zepbound and Mounjaro, support pipeline growth, and leverage the latest technology and automation for maximum efficiency, safety, and quality control.”

Image by Eli Lilly