VIDEO: PETA Catches Eli Lilly CEO Lying About Forced Swim Tests

Published by Sara Oliver.

At a recent event in Indiana, an animal advocate filmed herself confronting Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks over his company’s refusal to ban the cruel and discredited forced swim test. PETA is releasing the damning video to expose Ricks’ false and misleading statements.

At the same Eli Lilly event, while Ricks spoke, several PETA supporters took to the stage and addressed the audience—further encouraging the company to ban the archaic forced swim test. In the test, mice and other small animals are often dosed with a test substance and forced to swim in beakers of water to keep from drowning—purportedly to help develop drugs to treat human depression.

PETA Knocks Down Eli Lilly’s Lies About the Forced Swim Test

The forced swim test—also known as the despair test—has been heavily criticized by scientists who argue that when the mice start to float, it’s not a sign of depression or despair but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment.

forced swim test

PETA responds to each of the misleading statements Ricks made about why Eli Lilly still conducts the forced swim test:

  • Researchers are currently employing human cell–based systems, drug-repurposing programs, and other cutting-edge, non-animal methods to develop antidepressant drugs—but Ricks claimed that there is no replacement for the archaic forced swim test.
  • Pharmaceutical giants, such as AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson, and Sage Therapeutics, have banned the test and are currently developing antidepressant drugs—but Ricks claimed that only companies that ended their antidepressant research have banned the test.
  • More than 20,000 people who use Eli Lilly’s products have urged the company to ban the forced swim test—but Ricks claimed that he “answers to the patients we serve.”

Take Action for Animals Who Suffer in Eli Lilly’s Experiments

Eli Lilly has tormented 3,400 mice and rats in the forced swim test since 1993, and not one of the drugs the company has attempted to develop by employing it are available for public use. Experts have claimed that flawed animal tests are a main reason why antidepressant drugs fail more than 90% of the time before reaching the market. Help PETA get this cruel and pointless experiment banned at Eli Lilly by taking action today!

person wearing mouse costume swimming in tank with protesters on either side

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind