Lilly CEO Reflects On D2C As Amazon Joins LillyDirect Delivery

After two months in operation, Eli Lilly’s launch into D2C sales with LillyDirect has been “surprisingly successful,” the company’s chairman/CEO David Ricks told an Economic Club of New York luncheon on Tuesday.

The following morning, Amazon Pharmacy announced it had joined LillyDirect as a home delivery provider. Amazon joins Truepill, which also powers such other D2C pharma marketers as Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs and GoodRx.

“We’re having trouble keeping up,” Ricks said about the LillyDirect business. “You’ll see more in that department from us,” he promised, stating that consumers have shown they want both “reliability” and “a relationship with the manufacturer.”



Unlike CVS or Walmart, LillyDirect can provide “peace of mind” by telling shoppers not only that a product isn’t now available but when it will be, Ricks said. And, unlike the “runaround” consumers get at pharmacies when trying to use coupons -- “the pharmacist doesn’t want to type in the number” -- they’re applied “every time on our site, so they [shoppers] have the confidence they’re getting the best value.”

In addition to LillyDirect, Lilly has also been engaging directly with the public more and more on social media thanks to its blockbuster weight-loss drugs, Zepbound and Mounjaro, which have been the subject of much activity.

Ricks attributed this “extraordinary” chatter both to obesity being “a common condition “that a lot of people care a lot about (It affects 40% of Americans, he noted)” and to the drug being “highly effective, so you move from just a medical sphere to a public sphere of conversation.”

Echoing Lilly’s non-branded Oscar-related advertising this past week, Ricks said that Lilly hopes “to direct that conversation online to the degree we can in a way that’s productive -- these are drugs for a serious disease and if someone is suffering from obesity and we can help them, we want to do that.” Lilly also wants people to use the drugs safely, on label, and to buy them from legitimate sources, he added.

Ricks also vigorously defended Lilly’s diversity and inclusion efforts, saying that they have “been key to our success in every way.... If we don't look like the population, we’re losing talent,” he explained.

When he became CEO in 2017, less than 30% of Lilly’s global management jobs were held by women, he said, and at the rate the company was then progressing, it would have reached gender parity in 73 years. Instead, he announced, that goal will be reached in 2024.

Next story loading loading..