Lilly Acquires CoLucid, Bringing Home an Indiana Discovery

Posted: Updated:
Lilly says it's now producing new drugs “at a rate we haven’t seen." It aims to create as many as 20 new medicines between 2014 and 2023. Lilly says it's now producing new drugs “at a rate we haven’t seen." It aims to create as many as 20 new medicines between 2014 and 2023.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company believes its new prescription drug to treat serious migraines could be on the market by 2019. The drug, called lasmiditan, has a unique story that shines a spotlight on Indiana’s life sciences sector. Those involved say it’s a tale of grit, a lot of money and a little luck—culminating with a happy ending for CoLucid, the startup that came to life in Indiana and will once again call it home.

Lilly scientists discovered lasmiditan about 12 years ago, but the pharmaceutical giant wasn’t focused on pain management at the time and had other medicines “with greater prospects of treating higher unmet medical needs.” The easiest, and most likely, route for a drug at this point would be to shelve it, simply another victim of the uphill, expensive battle to bring pharmaceuticals to the market. But Indiana’s life sciences sector helped prevent such a dismal fate.

The state’s life sciences initiative, BioCrossroads, was establishing its footing at the same time and led the charge to keep lasmiditan alive.

“[BioCrossroads] put together the Indiana Future Fund, which was an investment vehicle for early-stage life sciences capital in Indiana,” says BioCrossroads President David Johnson. “There wasn’t anything like that before, and it was the first big project for BioCrossroads.”

Several of the venture capital firms participating in the Indiana Future Fund approached Lilly and bought the rights to lasmiditan, forming the startup company CoLucid Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to take on the early-stage risk of developing the potential migraine drug.

“At $16.5 million, it was one of largest venture capital transactions that had ever been done in the state and certainly the largest in the life sciences area,” says Johnson. “Without BioCrossroads and the Indiana Future Fund, there never would’ve been CoLucid.”

CoLucid remained in Indiana until its chief executive officer—a former Lilly executive—died unexpectedly. The new CEO was based in Boston; as result, lasmiditan’s clinical trials took place on the East Coast.

“We never lost track of lasmiditan, even after it left our laboratory,” says Lilly Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development Darren Carroll. “And in that 12-year period…we began to see pain, in general, become a much more important unmet medical need in the U.S. As a result, Lilly decided over the last five-to-six years to get much more engaged in the development of medicines to treat various kinds of pain.”

Meanwhile, CoLucid was leading lasmiditan through clinical trials with “unbelievably successful” results, says Johnson. Underscoring the colossal cost of drug development, CoLucid went public to raise more capital to finance Phase 3 clinical trials. And in January, Lilly acquired CoLucid for $960 million, bringing its discovery back home for the conclusion of Phase 3 clinical trials and the final push to commercialization.

Carroll believes lasmiditan adds to Lilly’s momentum “after a pretty tough spot.” During a four-year period, patents began to expire on key Lilly products that accounted for as much as 40 percent of the company’s revenues.

“We didn’t have the exact timing right for new medicines coming out of our labs, so we had a bit of a gap between patents expiring and new medicines coming out of our laboratory,” says Carroll. “We really had to hunker down as a company. While we had to be very careful about our expenses, we continued to invest in innovation during that period, and those investments are now paying off.”

Carroll says Lilly is now producing new drugs “at a rate we haven’t seen”; it aims to create as many as 20 new medicines during the 10-year period between 2014 and 2023. With the tally already at seven, Lilly is confident lasmiditan will count toward that goal and mark a full-circle, Hoosier success story.

“That will, in turn, end up employing more people in Indiana and putting more money into the state’s economy; Lilly will be able to grow with a very promising therapeutic product,” says Johnson. “It’s something that would not have happened, had there not been that special pool of money available and some people willing to use that money to take some pretty extraordinary risk. They put in a huge effort to build a company; it was hard to do, but turned out to be really, really worth the effort.” 

Carroll says lasmiditan could mark a major step forward for the 36 million Americans who suffer from migraines.
Lilly’s emerging pain management portfolio also includes galcanezumab, which Carroll says will work hand-in-hand with lasmiditan.
Johnson says CoLucid’s story illustrates that innovation requires a lot of time and money.
  • Perspectives

    • Overseas Outsourcing Can Create a World of Problems

      The internet broke down geographic barriers for businesses, making it possible to find lower-cost suppliers around the world. But if companies lack the knowledge and skills to manage those suppliers properly, they may end up spending far more than expected. We’ve worked with companies all over the globe to help our clients meet their advertising and marketing objectives while protecting their budgets. While most of those working relationships have been positive, we’ve had...
    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Money magazine judges Fishers as 3rd best place to live in the U.S.

      Fishers Makes Top 10 List of 'Best Places to Live'

      Three communities in Indiana made the top 100 list of best places to live in the country, but only one made the top 10. Fishers was judged by Money magazine as the third best place to live in the United States, behind Clarksville, Tennessee and Round Rock, Texas.

    • 120WaterAudit Lands $7M in Funding

      Zionsville-based 120WaterAudit LLC has closed on a $7 million Series A round of funding. The company says it plans to use the funding to enhance its digital water cloud platform and expand sales and marketing efforts. The funding round was led by Indianapolis-based HG Ventures, with participation from Allos Ventures in Indy and California-based Greenhouse Capital Partners. 120WaterAudit's platform includes software and testing kits to help government agencies, public...

    • ‘Potential’ Fueling Downtown Makeover in Fort Wayne

      As Fort Wayne prepares to christen its latest big downtown project, Mayor Tom Henry says there are no signs of transformational development slowing down in the state’s second largest city. The Landing, a $34 million downtown redevelopment project, is expected to officially open soon, one of an estimated 14 projects that Henry says can help Fort Wayne become a destination city. Since the opening of Parkview Field more than a decade ago, Henry says momentum has...

    • New study reveals best place in Indiana for young families

      And the Best Place for Young Families Goes To...

      What do you look for in a community when deciding where to start a family and raise your children? There can be several factors to weigh in making a sound decision. Housing affordability. Unemployment rates. Quality of education. Mortage website Lendingtree.com has released the results of a study pointing to the best places for young families in Indiana.

    • Photo courtesy of Bristol Parks

      Startup Plans to Add 250 Jobs By 2021

      A metal forming startup is seeking to use a facility in Bristol that has been empty since 2017 for a major manufacturing operation. The Elkhart Truth reports Brinco will invest $52 million in the project and add 250 jobs.