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October 22, 2010

Drug R&D: In Setback For Singapore, Lilly Will Close A Research Center

Jean-Francois Tremblay

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Eli Lilly & Co. will close the Lilly Singapore Center for Drug Discovery, a corporate research facility that the company inaugurated in 2002. The decision comes three years after Lilly committed to invest an additional $150 million in the center to boost staff and research capabilities.

The closure will affect 130 employees. A small number of scientists may be offered relocation to Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis, while others will be eligible for a severance package, the firm says. The center's main therapeutic areas are diabetes and cancer. The closure will improve the overall efficiency of Lilly's research efforts, the company says.

Because Lilly operates one of Singa­pore's largest corporate drug R&D centers, the move is a blow to the island country's ambition to turn itself into a hub of biomedical research. Drug companies setting up R&D facilities in Singapore are rewarded with generous subsidies and tax breaks, but the country of 5 million people has a hard time competing with China, where both the pharmaceutical market and the pool of scientific talent are far larger.

A spokesman for Singapore's Economic Development Board tells C&EN that, Lilly's move aside, health care companies still come to Singapore to tap the scientific talent. The agency points out that Lilly will continue to collaborate with local academic institutions and will maintain a clinical-trial facility on the island. Last January, the spokesman notes, Roche said it would invest $100 million in a translational medicine research center in Singapore.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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