Lilly’s San Diego Biotechnology Center of Silence

12/17/08Follow @bvbigelow

Eli Lilly and Co. executives were downright chatty about the company’s biotechnology strategy last week when they convened a meeting with Wall Street analysts. “We see more and more that biotech is a key to sustaining pharmaceutical innovation for the future,” Lilly’s vice president of biotech discovery research, Tom Bumol, said in a statement the company released Dec. 11. Summing up Lilly’s “transformative” strategy for the analysts’ meeting, Bumol added, “Over the past decade, we have built a new integrated biotechnology infrastructure, from discovery through development, and including delivery, devices, and manufacturing.”

But in San Diego, where Indianapolis-based Lilly is busy developing what it calls a “Biotechnology Center of Excellence,” the world’s 10th largest pharmaceutical company is as silent as a sphinx.

After acquiring San Diego’s SGX Pharmaceuticals in August for $64 million, Lilly has been busy consolidating SGX with AME, or Applied Molecular Evolution, a San Diego biotech Lilly acquired in 2004 for roughly $400 million. Lilly has been operating AME as a subsidiary here ever since. The company also has a lucrative partnership with San Diego’s Amylin for Byetta, its drug for type 2 diabetes.

Signs of Lilly’s activity are everywhere. The company has notified state officials of plans to lay off a total of 66 SGX employees.  That’s more than half of the 120 employees SGX had when Lilly took over.

Meanwhile, in September, several weeks after closing the SGX deal, Lilly signed … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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