The Biomedical Century?

  • by: |
  • 11/30/2011
Joseph Rago recently sat down for an insightful interview with John Lechleiter, the CEO and chairman of Eli Lilly & Co.

Here are a few key excerpts:

But above all, Mr. Lechleiter explains, "There's no better investment that we can make than in biomedical research and in our health. This is not something that we're trying to steal away from someone else. This is not a nascent industry." Pounding his desk on each word—"America leads the world, okay?"

"I believe this will be the biomedical century," he continues. "We'll look back a hundred years from now and say the 20th century was the century of chemistry and physics, and the 21st century was the century of biomedicine."

Mr. Lechleiter adds that "The challenge or the opportunity we have is that never before has the science and our knowledge base been riper for exploitation." For most of the pharmaceutical industry's existence—since Civil War veteran Col. Eli Lilly began to improve on the patent medicines of the day—"it was akin to feeling your way around a dark room and trying to make sense of what's what. Suddenly the lights are on and we can see, aha: In a cell, this pathway and that pathway both contribute to, say, tumor formation."

Not only is there an ongoing revolution in genomics and systems biology, Mr. Lechleiter continues, we increasingly have the tools to make use of this basic research and commercialize it. "A process that used to take years and years and rely too much on serendipity and conjecture can now be accomplished in a period of time that looks closer to months and months." Researchers are more "mission driven and deliberate" and, with a biological target, can "come up with a viable clinical candidate, something that we could hope to take into human testing" faster and with more confidence than ever before.

Read the full piece here.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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