Eli Lilly (LLY.NYSE) invested an additional US$20 million in Chinese drug maker Novast Laboratories as it seeks a stronger foothold in China’s generic medicines market, The Wall Street Journal reported. Novast plans to use the funding to increase its manufacturing capacity of generic drugs at its Jiangsu site over the next few years. Eli Lilly Chief Executive John Lechleiter said foreign markets are an increasingly important source of growth for the company, especially China, where sales rose 41% in the first quarter. The company has seen its profit decline in recent quarters due to rising operating and marketing costs. Lilly’s antipsychotic drug Zyprexa lost patient protection in October, but the company’s sales of other products, including antidepressant Cymbalta, are growing. Lilly originally invested in the Novast roughly five years ago through an US$100 million fund run through its venture-capital arm.
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