Lilly Pumps Another $700M into Insulin Manufacturing

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) is increasing its annual investment in insulin production by another $700 million as it looks to help thwart the growing number of diabetes cases around the world.

That brings Lilly’s total commitment to insulin expansion over the last year to $1.0 billion, more than half of which has already been invested in its Indianapolis headquarters.

The drug giant’s latest investment will go toward expanding global insulin manufacturing capacity in Puerto Rico, France and China.

Lilly has been manufacturing Insulin since it became commercially available in 1923, but the recent push is in response to what Lilly says is a growing “diabetes epidemic” that has raised insulin demand. It has also been facing fierce competition from new entrants focused specifically on diabetes, including Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO).

"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, president of Lilly Diabetes.

The drug giant has also increased its investment in diabetes research, currently operating 14 new molecular entities in clinical development, including three under regulatory review and another in a late-stage trial.

China will get a majority of the new investment at $350 million, which will be used to expand its insulin cartridge manufacturing capacity. Lilly has taken several steps to grow its footprint in the Far East amid a rising number of cases, including opening the Lilly China Research and Development Center in Shanghai last year.

“Our ongoing investment in China will help Lilly bring medicines to the country with the largest population of people with diabetes—and which is projected to rise to more than 142 million by 2035,” said Jacques Tapiero, president of Lilly Emerging Markets.

Indianapolis and Puerto Rico will get a combined $245 million of the investment to grow their insulin-active-ingredient and delivery device manufacturing capacity, and France’s $120 million will be used to expand a cartridge facility.

Lilly's increased focus comes as the International Diabetes Federation on Thursday reports of growing cases of diabetes around the world. 382 million adults had diabetes in 2013, a number that is projected to rise to 592 million over the next 25 years.

The economic cost is also staggering, with diabetes treatment costs totaling $548 billion in 2013, representing 11% of total health care expenditures. IDF anticipates predicts the total expense rising by 14% over the next 20 years.

Shares of Lilly were up about 1% to $51.04 in recent trade.