Case | HBS Case Collection | October 1997 (Revised September 2003)

Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy (A)

by Stefan H. Thomke, Ashok Nimgade and Paul Pospisil


Describes how Eli Lilly and Co. tries to accelerate its new drug development process with the aid of "combinatorial chemistry"--a rapidly emerging and revolutionary approach to preclinical drug discovery. The product manager of a potential blockbuster migraine drug faces the decision of "racing" the drug to market or spending additional time to refine an already promising drug candidate. Focuses on: (1) the new drug development process with an emphasis on pre-clinical drug discovery; (2) radical innovations ("combinatorial chemistry") in the drug discovery process; (3) the managerial challenges of introducing such innovations into a large organization with multiple stakeholders; (4) the financial value of time-to-market; and (5) the changing competitive environment in the pharmaceutical industry.

Keywords: Chemicals; Finance; Innovation and Invention; Time Management; Markets; Product Development; Organizations; Business Processes; Problems and Challenges; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Competition; Pharmaceutical Industry;


Thomke, Stefan H., Ashok Nimgade, and Paul Pospisil. "Eli Lilly and Company: Drug Development Strategy (A)." Harvard Business School Case 698-010, October 1997. (Revised September 2003.)