The U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly wants to build a new production facility for drugs against diabetes and obesity in Rhineland-Palatinate for a billion euros. On Friday, representatives of what is currently the most valuable company in the industry presented the plans for a 2.3 billion euro investment in Alzey in the presence of Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). The F.A.Z. had already reported on the investments on Thursday. The company also announced plans to invest up to 100 million euros in start-ups and incubators in the life science and biotech industries in Germany.

Vanessa Trzewik

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"The praise of Germany as a pharmaceutical location is wrong," said Lauterbach. Eli Lilly's decision is a good day for Germany, for patients and for research. "I would like to thank Eli Lilly for their trust in Germany as a business location. It's one of the biggest investment decisions we've seen in this area, and it's also without subsidies," Habeck said. Over the past three years, Eli Lilly has announced $11 billion in new locations worldwide. Alzey is the company's largest single announced investment during this period, an Eli Lilly spokesperson said.

Operations scheduled to start in 2027

The new production site in Rhineland-Palatinate is scheduled to start operations in 2027. Up to 1000 jobs will be created, as Eli Lilly announced. The construction project is scheduled to begin in 2024 and will employ up to 1900 people. The availability of skilled workers was one of the decisive reasons for the choice of location, explained Lilly manager Edgardo Hernandez. The location close to the existing sites in Fegersheim near Strasbourg and in Bad Homburg also spoke in favor of Alzey. With the new production facility, the company will have a total of six production facilities in Europe. Suppliers such as Schott Pharma, a newcomer to the stock exchange in Mainz, which produces, among other things, injection syringes for drugs, such as those Eli Lilly plans to produce in Alzey, are also likely to benefit from the settlement.

The US company, which has been present in Germany since 1960, employs around 1000 people in Germany, mainly in Bad Homburg, where the German headquarters are located. The Group is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. With a market value of around $560 billion, Lilly is currently the most valuable publicly traded healthcare company in the world. This is mainly due to the success of the diabetes drug Mounjaro, which can also be used to treat obesity. The drug is approved in the USA and Europe as a diabetes drug and has also received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration as a weight loss syringe. It is marketed under the name Zepbound and is a competitor to Wegovy from the Danish group Novo Nordisk, which currently dominates the market with its diet preparations. In the EU, the extended use of Mounjaro for morbid obesity has been recommended by the regulator for approval by the EU Commission.

Production in Alzey will not only be designed for the European market, but also for the global market, explained Ilya Yuffa, who is responsible for international business at Eli Lilly. This also pleased the Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer (SPD), who was able to report once again on the settlement of an important pharmaceutical and biotech company in her state at her own press conference on site. It was only at the end of September that it ceremoniously opened Novo Nordisk's new German headquarters in Mainz.

Rheinhessen as a biotech location

Just a few kilometers away, the Mainz-based vaccine manufacturer BioNTech brings a lot of prestige and money to the state capital. BASF is also based in Ludwigshafen. The aim of the state government is to develop the region into a leading location for biotechnology. It remains to be seen whether it will be able to rely on the $100 million announced by Eli Lilly for investments in the start-up ecosystem in Germany in the future. It has not yet been decided how the funds will be used, said Lilly manager Yuffa in Berlin.

Health Minister Lauterbach announced that the government would further improve the framework conditions for research and production. "In this way, we ensure that patients have quick access to new treatment options and make ourselves less dependent on fragile supply chains." A strong pharmaceutical industry and research in Europe is important for good health care. "Germany wants to provide new impetus here."

Economics Minister Habeck explained that the pharmaceutical industry in Germany has existing networks that corporations such as Eli Lilly can build on even without subsidies. "In other areas, such as semiconductors or battery production, we have little or nothing," Habeck said, explaining the reasons for the billions in subsidies that the federal government has announced for new settlements in these industries.