Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks says GLP-1 is an important invention with the potential to improve the lives of many people and that Lilly has been working in this area for a long time, having launched the first GLP-1 drug in 2005. Although the apparent success of GLP-1 is recent, it is the result of 20 years of work and innovation. He points out that developing real medical breakthroughs takes time and energy, and that metabolic diseases and cancer are far more complex to combat than viral pathogens, such as COVID.

Lilly discovered that higher doses of drugs initially designed to control blood sugar levels could also lead to considerable weight loss. In addition, the combination of two proteins from the incretin family, GLP-1 and GIP (the latter affecting fat metabolism), showed even greater weight loss in mice, while mitigating certain side effects such as nausea.

Following promising results in 2016, Lilly accelerated the development and production of these drugs. However, demand is huge and supply limited. By 2022, Lilly and Novo have produced enough drugs for around 12 million people, a far cry from the one billion obese people reported by the WHO. Lilly is working to increase its production capacity through the construction of new manufacturing facilities, but the complexity of protein manufacturing limits production capacity.

Ricks says that Lilly is working on a solid oral form of the drug that is potentially easier to produce in large quantities. This advance could not only meet demand in the US, but worldwide.

Finally, he discusses Lilly's campaign to destigmatise obesity, which is often perceived as a lack of willpower, but is in fact a serious disease associated with multiple health problems.

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