Taxes, Innovation, and Diversity

Happy Friday! Just a few thoughts before clocking out for another weekend of football (by the way, the collective record of Indiana and Notre Dame -- the universities that gave diplomas to your LillyPad bloggers -- is 8-10. An ugly 8-10 at that. Thank goodness biopharmaceutical public policy diverts my attention).

Monday started with a bang in the innovation space when we announced plans to acquire Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a Philadelphia-based company that is developing novel molecular imaging compounds to detect and monitor chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's.  The deal's not done yet, as normal closing details (such as antitrust clearance and approval by Avid stockholders) is still required. Assuming all goes well, the acquisition should create a pretty neat fit for Lilly as we focus on finding innovative solutions to devastating diseases. Avid's lead product is designed to detect amyloid plaque on the brain - a leading indicator of Alzheimer's. Stay tuned.

One of our company's leaders, Alex Azar, delivered some important messages about diversity on Thursday during a guest lecture at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. The traditional roadmap on diversity (ethnicity and gender, for example)  are "must haves" in the business world. But Alex took the diversity platform one step further - emphasizing the importance of diversity (including thought) throughout the value chain. "We must understand how culture, race, gender, ethnicity, and other factors affect our patients' health and their use of our medications," he said. "We have to connect with all our customers, patients, providers, and payers so that we can meet their needs -- and this means our perspectives and backgrounds have to be as diverse as theirs."

Alex pulled out two specific examples of Lilly's success in this area: our strategy that drives diverse enrollment (allowing us to better understand what works best -- and what doesn't -- in minority populations). He also talked about our focus on personalized medicine. Using medical tools and advances, we're working to provide patients with the right drug at the right dose at the right time. Personalized medicine amounts to diversity at the care delivery level. The reality: medicines are not "one-size-fits-all" and we want Lilly treatments used only when they should be used.

And finally: the new tax in Puerto Rico (4 percent in 2011 for foreign companies doing business in The Commonwealth) is still being tossed around by lawmakers there. The legislative session is scheduled to end Tuesday. American companies that do business in Puerto Rico -- some of which are pharmaceutical companies, like Lilly -- are unhappy on many levels, including the lack of any public hearing or input on the matter. Many in the U.S. media have agreed. And recent advertising has even promoted New York as a place for business (in the event any companies are contemplating new business locations). A story this week in the San Juan Weekly quoted several U.S. executives, including Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, as saying they will explore their options.