PETA Billboard Blasts Eli Lilly Over Near-Drowning Animal Test

For Immediate Release:
November 1, 2022

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


In a push for Eli Lilly to ban the forced swim test, in which mice and rats in water-filled beakers struggle to swim for their lives, PETA has placed a billboard near Eli Lilly’s headquarters, at 530 W. Morris St., with the message “The Forced Swim Test Doesn’t Hold Water. Ban This Cruel Lab Experiment NOW.”

“Eli Lilly refuses to ban scientifically debunked cruelty that makes tiny animals fear they’re drowning,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the company to embrace modern, non-animal methods that are on the cutting edge of research, as most of its pharmaceutical competitors have already done.”

In the forced swim (or “behavioral despair”) test, mice, rats, or other small animals are often dosed with a test substance, placed in inescapable beakers filled with water, and made to swim to keep from drowning in misguided efforts to understand and treat human depression. The test has been heavily criticized by scientists who argue that floating isn’t a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment.

Although more than 20,000 people who use Eli Lilly’s products have urged the company to ban the test, Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks claims that he “answers to the patients we serve”—and even though researchers are currently employing human cell–based systems, drug-repurposing programs, and other methods to develop antidepressant drugs, he also claims that there are no replacements for it. Eli Lilly has tormented a total of 3,400 mice and rats in this test since 1993, and none of the drugs it has attempted to develop by using it are on the market to treat depression.

Following talks with PETA, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie, Roche, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb have all dropped the test.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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