Eli Lilly Hopes New Dye Will Counter Patent Losses: CEO

Eli Lilly hopes its new radioactive dye, used to determine whether someone may have Alzheimer's disease, will counter the expected lost income loss income from losing patents on two of its best-selling drugs, the CEO said on CNBC Thursday.

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"We’ve seen these patent expirations coming for some time," CEO John Lechleiter told Squawk on the Street about the coming expirations for Zyprexa and Cymbalta. "That's why over the last decade we've invested in research to generate a Phase 3 pipeline" for over a dozen new molecules. "As we launch these products we hope to offset the patent expirations."

Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lilly's radioactive dye, Amyvid, for brain scans to help doctors rule out whether patients have Alzheimer's. The dye binds to a form of plaque that accumulates in the brains of patients who may have the memory-stealing disease.

Previously, doctors would only be able to determine if a patient had Alzheimer's after their death via an autopsy, Lechleiter said.

He added the company is working with Medicare and "a number of other constituents" to get reimbursement coverage for patients undergoing the brain test with Lilly's product.

— Reuters contributed to this report.