Lilly sued over new diabetes alliance

Eli Lilly and Company is being sued by Amylin Pharmaceuticals for engaging in uncompetitive behaviour and violating a strategic alliance between the two companies.

Amylin has accused Lilly of breaching the terms of an agreement regarding the development and commercialisation of exenatide after Lilly partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) to develop a competing medicine.

In an official statement, Amylin says it selected Lilly as a partner to “promote development and maximise sales” of its exenatide products and is “disappointed” the matter could not be resolved amicably.

Eli Lilly responded by insisting the lawsuit is “without merit” and says it will “vigorously defend” it position.

Exenatide is currently indicated as a first line treatment for type 2 diabetes and is currently under review by the FDA.

The two companies entered into an alliance in 2002 for the worldwide commercialisation and development of exenatide, currently marketed as Byetta (exenatide) injection.

But Amylin claims that Indianapolis-based Lilly engaged in “improper, unlawful and anticompetitive behaviour” by forming a similar alliance with BI to commercialise and develop its linagliptin product – a direct competitor of exenatide-containing medications.

San Diego-based Amylin’s main aim is to prevent Lilly using its sales force from selling both competing products simultaneously, but, despite the litigation, it hopes to continue working with Lilly in the future.

“Amylin is committed to exenatide, a franchise that we believe provides important treatment options for the millions of patients around the world with type 2 diabetes,” a statement said. “Notwithstanding this litigation, we intend to continue to collaborate with Lilly in the development and commercialisation of exenatide products.”