Eli Lilly's CEO Refuses to Ban Near-Drowning of Small Animals

Campaign Updates

U.K. Agency Representatives Condemn Cruel Near-Drowning Tests and Others

July 8, 2021

In a huge victory for both animals and science, following urging from PETA, it’s been recommended that the use of the forced swim test to model human depression be ended in the U.K. Influential scientists working for the country’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency concluded in a scientific paper published online that this and similar animal tests cannot predict the efficacy of potential new antidepressant drugs. The authors cite PETA’s work with pharmaceutical companies to end the experiment, in which small animals, often dosed with a test substance, are dropped into beakers of water and forced to swim for their lives. After reviewing the evidence and seeking input from experts, the authors agree: The forced swim test is not a model of depression and could even end up ruling out effective new drugs for humans. Now that its absurdity has been recognized by U.K. animal-experiment regulators, who commissioned the paper, Eli Lilly must heed this guidance and ban the forced swim test.


PETA Exposes Eli Lilly’s Long History of Animal Torment

July 6, 2021

In a letter sent to Eli Lilly’s board of directors, PETA exposes the company’s long history of invasive experiments on hundreds of dogs, pigs, monkeys, and other animals and urges it to turn over a new leaf by banning the forced swim test.

In just one experiment, according to a journal article published in 2020, Eli Lilly paid a laboratory to open the chests of dogs and pigs surgically, insert tubes into their blood vessels, and pump them full of an experimental protein to see its effect on their blood pressure and heart rate. The animals were then killed and their hearts cut out and examined.

In the last decade, the company has been hiring contract laboratories to perform many of its experiments on animals—which means that it doesn’t have to report to the government the number of animals it harms and kills. In 2008, one of the last years that Eli Lilly reported numbers of these species to the government, it used more than 2,200 animals—including 784 dogs, 424 monkeys, and 424 rabbits—in various tests. These numbers don’t include mice, rats, and others who aren’t covered under the Animal Welfare Act, the only federal law that offers minimum protections to animals in laboratories.


PETA’s Mobile Billboard Takes the Campaign to Ban Eli Lilly’s Cruel Forced Swim Test to the Streets

May 30, 2021

PETA’s mobile billboard urging Eli Lilly to ban the cruel and archaic forced swim test on mice and rats wheeled down Indianapolis streets and through busy strip mall parking lots on Memorial Day weekend, informing the public about the cruelty inherent in the test.

PETA mobile billboard drives around Indianapolis


New PETA Ad Targets Eli Lilly’s Cruel Test

April 22, 2021

“Eli Lilly’s Forced Swim Test: The Science Doesn’t Hold Water.” That’s the eye-catching message on a new PETA billboard now up near the Eli Lilly New Jersey office urging the company CEO David Ricks to ban the cruel forced swim test on mice and rats.

billboard that says eli lilly's forced swim test: the science doesn't hold water


PETA ‘Pill Bottle’ Rattles Eli Lilly Over Forced Swim Test

February 25, 2021

A PETA supporter wearing a pill bottle costume depicting a terrified mouse and holding a sign reading, “Eli Lilly: Ban the Forced Swim Test,” led socially distanced protests outside two Indianapolis pharmacies that sell Eli Lilly prescriptions—one of them located mere blocks from the pharmaceutical company’s headquarters. The protesters pointed out that Eli Lilly has tormented 3,400 mice and rats in the forced swim test since 1993, with nothing to show for it.

PETA Protesters in front of pharmacy


PETA Launches a New Action Alert Targeting Eli Lilly Customers

February 4, 2021

PETA launched a new action alert—“Tell This Drug Giant to Ban Near-Drowning Tests”—asking Eli Lilly customers to let the company know it’s time to ban tormenting animals in bogus forced swim tests that help no one.


PETA Presents Eli Lilly With ‘Pants on Fire’ Award for Deceiving the Public

January 26, 2021

Even after Eli Lilly came under fire from PETA for refusing to ban the forced swim test—in which experimenters often dose small animals with a test substance, drop them into inescapable water-filled beakers, and watch them frantically paddle to avoid drowning—the pharmaceutical giant still hasn’t officially prohibited it. Instead, the company glosses over the cruelty to which it has subjected at least 3,400 curious, intelligent mice and rats in tests https://www.peta.org/blog/eli-lilly-virtual-annual-shareholder-meeting-forced-swim-test/ the success of a single medication in humans. Eli Lilly is misleading the public with statements that it hasn’t used the test “for some time.” In fact, the company published papers saying that it performed the forced swim test on mice—who are family-oriented and develop emotional attachments to one another—as recently as March 2019.


Eli Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Faces Home Protest Over Forced Swim Tests

December 10, 2020

A “mischief of mice” descended on the home of Eli Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky to demand that he ban the company’s use of the cruel forced swim test on animals. GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, and many other pharmaceutical companies have banned the test after discussions with PETA.

 

Protesters Deliver Thousands of Petitions Demanding a Ban on the Cruel Near-Drowning Test on Small Animals

November 17, 2020

A giant PETA “rat” scampered up the ramp to Eli Lilly’s headquarters in Indianapolis, pushing a dolly piled high with over 120,000 petitions demanding that the company ban the cruel forced swim test. PETA supporters gathered outside with signs proclaiming, “Forced Swim Test: Drowning Science.”


PETA U.K. Protests Outside Eli Lilly’s Planned Research Center in England

October 29, 2020

PETA supporters gathered in Bracknell, England—where Eli Lilly plans to set up a new research center—to protest the company’s support of the controversial forced swim test.


PETA Germany Protests in Front of Eli Lilly’s German Office

October 6, 2020

A group of PETA activists disguised as mice stood in front of Eli Lilly’s office in Bad Homburg, Germany, to urge the company to ban the forced swim test.

 

‘Pill Bottle’ Marches for Animals Outside Eli Lilly Facility in San Diego

September 16, 2020

A PETA supporter wearing a pill bottle costume depicting a mouse used in an experiment with the words “Lilly: Not Nice to Mice” led a socially distanced protest outside Eli Lilly’s research and development facility in San Diego, calling on the pharmaceutical company to ban the cruel forced swim test. The “pill bottle” and fellow protesters pointed out that the company has terrified 3,400 mice and rats in the test since 1993, with nothing to show for it.

‘Pill Bottle’ Demands a Ban on Cruel Near-Drowning Test on Small Animals at New Jersey Eli Lilly Facility

September 15, 2020

PETA supporters protested in front of an Eli Lilly facility located in Branchburg, New Jersey, urging CEO David Ricks to join Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie Inc., Roche, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb in banning the archaic and cruel forced swim test.

‘Pill Bottle’ Demands a Ban on Cruel Near-Drowning Test on Small Animals

September 9, 2020

PETA supporters protested in front of an Eli Lilly headquarters located in Indianapolis. “Eli Lilly needs to accept that nearly drowning mice is irrelevant to human depression,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “It must follow the lead of other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, and ban this useless test.”

‘Lilly: Not Nice to Mice’ Message Hits Eli Lilly Headquarters

August 6, 2020

PETA supporters gathered outside Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis with a giant banner that couldn’t be missed, urging the company to ban the cruel forced swim test on mice and rats. They also stenciled and chalked the sidewalk near the facility, sending similar messages to CEO David Ricks.

Chalking Near Home of Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks

July 2, 2020

A group of local PETA supporters gathered near the home of Eli Lilly’s CEO to decorate the streets with a message reading, “David Ricks: Ban Forced Swim Test Now.”

Eli Lilly CEO Faces Home Protest Over Forced Swim Tests

June 18, 2020

A giant “mouse” led a group of 12 PETA supporters wearing masks in a socially distanced protest outside the home of Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks to urge him to join other leading pharmaceutical companies—including Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer—and ban the scientifically worthless and cruel forced swim test. Protesters held signs, chanted, and handed out leaflets to neighbors for nearly two hours.

PETA Slams Eli Lilly on NBC Boston

June 2, 2020

A PETA ad narrated by Floriana Lima aired on NBC Boston exposing how Eli Lilly is refusing to ban a test that’s designed to induce fear, panic, despair, trauma, and a sense of helplessness in animals and that’s irrelevant to humans suffering from mental illness.

Eli Lilly Has a Customer Service Meltdown When PETA Comes Calling

May 14, 2020

More than 1,000 compassionate PETA supporters phoned Eli Lilly urging it to end the near-drowning test permanently, and many reported speaking with testy customer service employees.

PETA Demands Eli Lilly Explain Forced Swim Test at Annual Meeting

May 4, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eli Lilly’s annual meeting went virtual this year. As permitted by regulations, PETA asked the company to assess the effectiveness of the forced swim test and then report its findings to shareholders, forcing it to admit that the test doesn’t accurately predict whether a drug will work as a human antidepressant. It yields positive results for compounds that aren’t prescribed as human antidepressants—such as caffeine—and negative results for compounds that are. Even Eli Lilly’s bestseller Prozac hasn’t yielded consistent results when studied in forced swim tests.

“While the fear of drowning is very real for the animals involved in the forced swim test, the experience in no way represents the enduring and multidimensional nature of depression. When nine of Eli Lilly’s biggest competitors have banned this atrocity at PETA’s request, it’s baffling that it refuses to acknowledge that it’s defending archaic practices.”

—PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell

‘Mice’ Protest Eli Lilly CEO Over Forced Swim Test

January 14, 2020

Masked “mice” from PETA descended on the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, where Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks was slated to take the stage, wielding signs demanding that he “end the mouse torture” by banning the forced swim test.

‘Mouse’ in Tank Protests Forced Swim Test at Eli Lilly Annual Meeting in Indianapolis

May 6, 2019

A PETA “mouse” submerged in a tank outside Eli Lilly’s annual meeting at its Indianapolis headquarters urged the pharmaceutical company to ban its use of the forced swim test. PETA scientist Dr. Emily Trunnell attended the meeting to call on company executives to enact a policy against using the test.

The Punisher Star Floriana Lima Demands End to Near-Drowning Test

March 11, 2019

In a new video for PETA, Ohio native and Ohio State University (OSU) alumna Floriana Lima—known for her roles in FOX’s Lethal Weapon, Supergirl, and Netflix’s The Punisher—pulled back the curtain on the forced swim test. She called on OSU, the University of Cincinnati, and pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb to ban the cruel test.

Left: © StarMaxInc.com

Left: © StarMaxInc.com

Scientific American Publishes PETA Opinion Piece

December 20, 2018

PETA’s opinion piece titled, “Let’s Stop the Near-Drowning of Lab Animals,” was published in Scientific American. Regarding the test, we explained, “Scientists do it to test antidepressants, but it’s fantastically cruel—plus it doesn’t even work.”

© Getty Images

© Getty Images

PETA Submits Shareholder Resolutions Calling On Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AbbVie, and Bristol Myers Squibb to Modernize Tests for Antidepressants

November 13, 2018

PETA—which owns a small amount of stock in Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AbbVie, and Bristol Myers Squibb for the purpose of addressing shareholders directly on animal-testing issues—submitted shareholder resolutions calling on the four companies to enact policies against funding, conducting, or commissioning the forced swim test.

PETA Neuroscientist Calls On Big Pharma to Pull the Plug on Psychological Experiments on Mice and Rats

November 8, 2018

In letters to Eli Lilly, AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Pfizer, PETA scientist Dr. Emily Trunnell made a scientific and ethical argument for pulling the plug on the use of the forced swim test. The issue was covered by leading industry news outlet STAT.

PETA Releases Scathing Scientific Critique of the Scientifically Worthless ‘Forced Swim Test,’ Which Induces Panic and Fear

November 8, 2018

PETA scientist Dr. Emily Trunnell prepared a scientific critique of the forced swim test, which is conducted by major pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline under the false premise that results are useful in finding antidepressants for humans. Together, pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Pfizer have subjected at least 5,461 mice, 1,066 rats, 748 gerbils, and 305 guinea pigs to the cruel test—as documented in 45 published papers and 16 patent applications over the past 30 years. PETA scientists identified 47 compounds that were tested on the animals and found that even though 36 of them showed promise as having antidepressant characteristics using the archaic forced swim test, none of these compounds is currently approved to treat human depression.

What You Can Do

Text* SWIM to 73822 to urge Eli Lilly to ban the forced swim test.

*U.S. only. Message and data rates may apply. Periodic messaging. Text STOP to end or HELP for info. Full terms are at PETA.vg/txt.

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