Eli Lilly's Lechleiter: "Ludicrous" Stock Price


CEOs of big drug companies are rarely, if ever, publicly candid about the price of their stock. You usually get the boilerplate line about how they manage the business and the market will do whatever.

But for the second time in two months Eli Lilly CEO--and soon-to-be Chairman--John Lechleiter has used the L-word to describe his stock price.

You can check out his comments about the stock and a bunch of other stuff from the video clip posted from a "First on CNBC" interview on "Squawk Box" this morning.

The company released financial guidance ahead of its analyst meeting today in New York City. I've been coming to these things for several years now and I have to say the attendance looks at least a tad lighter this year. It's raining here, but not heavily enough to keep folks away. You also don't know how many analysts/investors are doing the webcast.

Perhaps the most significant announcement, though, came in another press release from LLY and its partners Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Alkermes that they're on track to file for FDA approval of a once-a-week version of their diabetes drug Byetta by the end of the first half of next year. Investor concerns that the timeline would be pushed out have pressured all three stocks recently. Many analysts believe the drug has mega-blockbuster potential.

In the meantime, LLY and AMLN are battling rare reports of pancreatitis associated with the current twice-a-day Byetta. It's an injectable drug that helps Type-2 diabetics lower their blood sugar and weight.

The safety concerns and slow uptake of Byetta by primary care doctors has hurt sales growth.

In his prepared remarks LLY Chief Financial Officer Derica Rice said,--and this is possibly the strongest defense of the drug I've heard from a Lilly official--"Neither Lilly or Amylin is satisfied with Byetta's performance in the U.S. We are not backing away from Byetta. We believe Byetta has significant untapped potential."

Lilly may have disappointed investors, however, by not providing detailed guidance on the fate of another potential big drug--the bloodthinner Effient. It's awaiting FDA approval and the agency has twice delayed making a decision on it.

And until there's more clarity on Effient Lechleiter may be using the L-word in regards to the stock price for a little longer.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com