PETA Exposes Eli Lilly’s Long History of Animal Torment, Appeals to Board of Directors to Ban Forced Swim Test

For Immediate Release:
July 6, 2021

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


PETA is calling on pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to ban a cruel near-drowning test on animals that numerous other drug companies have already left behind. In a letter sent today to the Eli Lilly Board of Directors, PETA exposes the Prozac maker’s long history of invasive experiments on hundreds of dogs, pigs, monkeys, and other animals and urges the company to turn over a new leaf by banning the forced swim test. In the controversial test, which is heavily criticized by many scientists, experimenters petrify small animals (who are often dosed with a test substance) by dropping them into inescapable containers of water and watch as they look for an escape and try to stay afloat.

“Eli Lilly’s history is steeped in the blood of thousands of animals,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “Useless test after useless test, Eli Lilly has tormented and killed dogs, monkeys, pigs, and others—or paid someone to do it. It could take a first step in canceling this culture of torment by banning the forced swim test, as numerous other pharmaceutical companies have already done.”

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 laboratories to do most 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 other small animals who aren’t covered under the Animal Welfare Act, the only federal law that offers any protection to animals in laboratories.

Following talks with PETA, numerous pharmaceutical companies have dropped the forced swim test, including Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie Inc., Roche, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb.

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

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