Eli Lilly appoints new obesity unit head ahead of key Mounjaro decision

(Reuters) -Eli Lilly and Co on Wednesday appointed a new chief for its diabetes and obesity unit in a string of leadership changes ahead of a key regulatory decision on the use of its potential blockbuster drug Mounjaro as a weight-loss treatment.

Mounjaro, chemically known as tirzepatide, is already being prescribed by doctors off-label as an obesity treatment.

Patrik Jonsson, the president of Lilly USA, will take on the additional responsibilities beginning Jan. 1, after Mike Mason retires from his role as the head of the diabetes and obesity division.

In his new role, Jonsson will oversee Lilly’s launched products and late-stage development of diabetes and obesity treatments, including tirzepatide and other candidates such as its next-generation obesity drug retatrutide and obesity pill orforglipron.

Jonsson spent 33 years with the drugmaker, and has previously led the company’s immunology unit as well as its operations in other geographies such as Sweden, Scandinavia, Italy and Japan.

Mason, who has also spent more than three decades with Lilly, oversaw the late-stage development and the launch of Mounjaro.

The diabetes drug, which clocked in sales of $979.7 million in the latest quarter, belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1s that stimulate insulin production.

GLP-1s have kick-started a market for obesity drugs that is estimated to reach $100 billion within a decade.

Lilly’s chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky will take on the additional responsibility to lead Lilly’s immunology division from Jonsson.

The company’s shares were down about 1% in premarket trading, although stock has gained about 44% so far this year, underpinned by investor bets on the success of Mounjaro.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)