CEO of the Week: Eli Lilly’s David A. Ricks

Under CEO David A. Ricks, Eli Lilly and Co. conducts the world's first COVID-19 antibody study using human patients

Under chairman and CEO David A. Ricks, Eli Lilly and Co. is conducting the world’s first human study of a potential antibody treatment designed to fight Covid-19.

The investigational medicine, referred to as LY-CoV555, is the first to emerge from the collaboration between Lilly and AbCellera to create antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, the Indianpolis pharmaceutical company said last week.

The first patients in the study were dosed at major medical centers in the U.S., including NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. At the same time as Lilly is investigating the safety and efficacy of LY-CoV555, the company is also starting large-scale manufacturing of the potential therapy.

Lilly is researching multiple approaches to treating Covid-19, the company said. Existing Lilly medicines are now being studied to understand their potential in treating complications of Covid-19, and the company is collaborating with two biotech companies to discover novel antibody treatments for Covid-19.

“Lilly is rising to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, whether it be by supporting our employees, our communities, patients with chronic diseases who are the most vulnerable to the virus, or directly attacking the disease with new and existing therapies,” Ricks said in the company’s first quarter earnings release.

“Lilly’s purpose — to make life better — has never been more important,” he added. “We’re focused on reliably supplying medicines, keeping our employees safe and pushing scientific efforts at top speed to defeat Covid-19. We’re also committed to improving the affordability of and access to our medicines, particularly insulin, during these challenging times.”

Ricks assumed the role of president and CEO and joined the board in January 2017, before becoming chairman that June. A Lilly veteran for more than 20 years, he served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines from 2012 to 2016. Previously, Ricks was president of Lilly USA, the company’s largest affiliate, from 2009 to 2012. He served as president and general manager of Lilly China, operating in one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets, from 2008 to 2009. And he was general manager of Lilly Canada from 2005 to 2008, after roles as director of pharmaceutical marketing and national sales director in that country.

Ricks joined Lilly in 1996 as a business development associate and held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada.


Headquarters: Indianapolis

Age: 51

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Purdue University; MBA, Indiana University

First joined company: 1996

Prior to joining Eli Lilly: Account representative, IBM

Named CEO: 2017


He’s No. 124 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.


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