Dr. Tim Garnett, former Chief Medical Officer at Eli Lilly, on the VatorNews podcast

Steven Loeb · June 14, 2024 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/58b4

Dr. Garnett started out as a obstetrician and gynecologist before joining Eli Lilly in the late 90s

Steven Loeb speaks Dr. Tim Garnett, former Chief Medical Officer at Eli Lilly. Dr. Garnett has more than 30 years of experience pioneering clinical development, medical affairs, and regulatory operations worldwide, predominantly during his tenure at Eli Lilly, with a focus on women’s health, metabolic diseases, and CNS conditions.

Highlights from the call below:

  • 0:55 - Dr. Garnett talks about his career and why he joined Eli Lilly

“Like a lot of physicians, when I first joined the pharmaceutical industry, I joined because I had a particular clinical expertise that the company valued, and that was women's health care, and particularly, postmenopausal osteoporosis. So, I joined as an expert, if you like, and then, like a lot of clinicians, once you joined the industry and start to understand it a little bit more, you had to make a decision: are you going to remain the clinical expert in the area that you studied and that initially brought you into the organization? Or are you going to go on a journey through management and leadership in the organization? I took the latter route and headed up a number of functions within Lilly and then became Chief Medical Officer back in 2009, and actually stayed in that role until I retired in 2021. Obviously, a lot changed during that time but my journey was one from being a clinical expert, a therapeutic expert, or really becoming a manager and a leader within the company.”

7:15 - How the pharma industry changed in the last couple of decades

“With respect to drugs that are available, and that come to market, when I joined the industry 20 plus years ago, there were a lot of me-too drugs being developed and launched; there were 17 SS and SNRIs, there were countless statins available, multiple antipsychotics, but all basically the same drugs. So, you had a lot of companies developing very similar drugs with no true differentiation clinically, but being marketed differently and a lot of price competition, but there was a lot of me-too development. What's happened in the last few years is that that doesn't happen anymore: you can't be the third or fourth market, if you're not first and second, or maybe third, then then there's no point. There's also been a shift to recognizing the me-too drugs are just not viable, and that what people need, and what the industry and what patients need, is true innovation, not just focusing on efficacy, but effectiveness. So, there's been a big shift in the kinds of drugs that companies choose to develop.”

17:43 - AI in the pharma space

“If we look at how drug development has evolved over the last 20 or 30 years, the biggest problem we had 30 years ago is still the biggest problem we have now, which is how do you recruit patients quick enough in your clinical trials? And how do you identify those patients? And then how do you contact them and get them to enter into your clinical trials? AI technology being applied to electronic health records has allowed us to very easily identify patients who fulfill the criteria of any given clinical trial so you can find out who your patients are, you can then contact them through the investigator. We still have the problem that most people don't want to go into a clinical trial, and so the actual elements of recruitment remain challenging, but we're getting better at finding patients and contacting patients and AI has played a huge role there, although I still believe that recruitment is the biggest time spent in drug development and the biggest challenge.”

26:49 - Joining Lindus Health as an advisor

“What attracted me to Lindus initially was actually their little moniker of being the anti-CRO, because that's a great way of getting people's attention to the fact that you're doing things differently. There's a number of things they're doing differently, but one of the things that they are addressing head on is this issue that, with them, you pay for the job and they will commit to do the job. If recruitment is slow, that's their responsibility and they will manage it; if data collection is slow, that's their responsibility and they will manage it. You’re not going to pay them extra for their poor performance, which is a great start to a conversation with a company. I also think they're very good at knowing how to identify patients, using some AI and other integrated techniques they know how to find patients. So, they have an approach which is a little bit different, that flies in the face of the current way that most CROs are approaching the business. I found that fascinating and as I've spoken to them more, I've really become more and more convinced that their approach will play well with companies."

37:50 - The rise of GLP-1 drugs

“The reason these drugs are so popular is twofold. Firstly, they are effective: if you take a GLP-1, if you take Tirzepatide or one of the other drugs, you will lose weight. It's not like some drugs, where maybe you will, you will lose weight, they are extraordinarily effective, and they are very safe. So, that's one issue. The other is, we have a population that is getting more obese by the week. I’m in Chicago and a catty corner from where I'm sitting in my office is the headquarters of McDonald's and whilst I'm not saying McDonald's are solely responsible for the obesity epidemic in the US, fast food, and equivalent things, are and we have a society that's becoming more and more obese. And so, we're making more obese people by the day. So it's maybe not a surprise that these drugs have become very popular. And they do work and they are safe.”

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