Eli Lilly aims to cut 200 R&D jobs

Indianapolis-based Elil Lilly and Co. says it plans to reduce its current research and development workforce by about 200 positions so it can refocus its efforts on certain key research areas.

On Friday, many of Lilly’s U.S. R&D employees were offered what the company is calling a “voluntary exit program,” according to Lilly spokeswoman Amy Sousa. Lilly is not publicly disclosing the terms of the program, Sousa said, but it's offering a compensation package to employees who choose to leave the company.

Employees have until later this month to decide, she said, so it’s too early to tell how many of those job reductions will come from Indianapolis.

Lilly uses this type of program periodically, Sousa said.

“We like it when we’re able to offer employees the choice, because it puts the decision in their hands," she said.

Lilly in turn plans to hire employees and refocus its U.S.-based efforts later this year in the areas of molecule-making capabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and immunology.

“We’ll be focusing in on these areas where we need certain areas of expertise,” Sousa said. “We want to continue to have a great pipeline of potential medicines. We’re focusing on some areas where we think we have some great opportunities.”

Sousa said the reductions, which represent less than 3 percent of Lilly’s global R&D workforce, are not related to the recently announced setback of Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab. In November, Lilly announced that drug had failed in late-stage clinical trials. Shortly after that, the company announced it would eliminate several hundred sales jobs as a result.

Lilly has about 40,000 employees worldwide.

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