March 31, 2009 / 4:53 AM / in 10 years

Eli Lilly eyes acquisitions- WSJ

March 31 (Reuters) - Eli Lilly & Co (LLY.N) is looking for acquisitions of as much as $15 billion, the drug maker’s chief executive John Lechleiter told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

“I got hungry again about three weeks after ImClone got closed” in late November, Lechleiter told the paper in an interview.

Lechleiter told the paper that Lilly wants to make more deals like its $6.5 billion takeover of ImClone, which added biotech cancer therapies already on the market and in development to Lilly’s oncology line-up.

Lechleiter said he wants to diversify Indianapolis-based Lilly’s product line-up to offset revenue declines some of the company’s drugs will face in the next several years from competition with cheaper generics, according to the paper.

Lilly’s best-selling drug, the antipsychotic Zyprexa, loses patent protection in 2011.

Lechleiter ruled out a mega-merger like Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth WYE.N and Merck & Co Inc’s (MRK.N) $41 billion tie-up with Schering Plough Corp SGP.N, saying it’s not clear major drug-industry mergers are an advantage, according to the paper.

“We’re going to look for opportunities to be a bit more diverse pharmaceutical company,” he told the paper. “We’re not going to buy a medical-device company. We’re not going to buy a diagnostic company.”

Lechleiter did not tell the paper which companies he is looking at. (Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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