Big Pharma Cos. to Face Shareholder Resolution Over Near-Drowning Tests

PETA Calls On Pfizer, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly to Modernize Tests for Antidepressants

For Immediate Release:
November 13, 2018

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

New York – PETA—which owns a small amount of stock in Pfizer, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly and Company for the purpose of addressing shareholders directly on animal-testing issues—has submitted shareholder resolutions calling on the four companies to enact policies to no longer fund, conduct, or commission use of the forced swim test. The resolutions follow letters that PETA sent the companies last week regarding the test.

In the test—which is often used for new antidepressant medications—mice, rats, guinea pigs, and gerbils are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and swim desperately to keep from drowning. Watch a video of the test here. The animals try to climb up the sides of the beaker and dive to the bottom, looking for a way to escape. They struggle to keep their heads above water and eventually float. Some experimenters claim that mice who spend more time floating are depressed. But the controversial test has been heavily criticized by many scientists who argue that floating isn’t a sign of despair but rather a positive sign of learning, conserving energy, and adapting to a new environment.

“The idea that forcing healthy animals to swim for fear of drowning will shed light on human depression just doesn’t hold water,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “PETA is calling on these health-care heavyweights to pull the plug on these cruel and useless tests and to develop treatments for mood disorders in humans using superior animal-free research methods instead.”

Combined, Pfizer, AbbVie (formerly part of Abbott Laboratories), Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Eli Lilly and Company have subjected at least 5,461 mice, 1,066 rats, 748 gerbils, and 305 guinea pigs to the cruel forced swim test in the past 30 years—as documented in 45 published papers and 16 patent applications.

PETA’s shareholder resolutions and letters to the pharmaceutical companies are available upon request. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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