Eli Lilly and Roche executives discuss the future of healthcare innovations

INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of business and government leaders from around the world gathered in Indianapolis for the first Indiana World Economic Summit. On Friday, executives from Eli Lilly and Roche Diagnostics, two of Indiana’s largest employers, discussed the future of the life sciences industry in the wake of innovations made during COVID-19.

“We did what we normally do in 16 years in eight months,” said Dave Ricks, CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, during Friday’s discussion.

This rapid pace of development of COVID-19 therapeutics is something Ricks said he wants to use to create treatments for other diseases.

“I’m just thinking what if the best new standard of care for diabetes could be adopted in seven days?” said Ricks.

Both Eli Lilly and Roche Diagnostics have been working to rapidly develop tests for COVID-19. Executives from both companies say partnerships with government agencies have helped achieve this and will continue to be crucial for future projects in what they describe as the “post-COVID” era.

Matt Sause, CEO of Roche Diagnostics North America, said the pandemic has revealed “the importance of these public-private partnerships, not only for accelerating the development of healthcare solutions, but also for ensuring broad access.”

Both CEOs say they are also working with government partners on preparing for future pandemics.

“One thing that was quite a challenge at the start of the pandemic was the lack of infrastructure available for testing,” Sause said. “And so I think for future pandemics, maintaining that infrastructure will be critical.”

Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced a $2.1 billion expansion in Boone County that will create 500 jobs.

Ricks praised Hoosier State’s business environment, though he thinks there are areas Indiana can improve to ensure businesses like his have the staff they need.

“We need more skilled labor,” Ricks said. “We want to work with the government on this. We need better health care and some kind of indirect cost system.

At Friday’s summit, Indiana Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers said strengthening the workforce and improving education were also among his priorities.

The Indiana World Economic Summit wraps up this weekend.

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