‘Pill Bottle’ to Take Eli Lilly to Task Over Forced Swim Test

PETA Will Demand a Ban on Cruel Near-Drowning Test on Small Animals

For Immediate Release:
September 9, 2020

Brooke Rossi 202-483-7382

Indianapolis – On Thursday, a PETA supporter wearing a pill bottle costume depicting a drowning mouse and the words “Lilly: Not Nice to Mice” will lead a socially distanced protest outside Eli Lilly’s headquarters calling on it to ban the cruel forced swim test. The “pill bottle” and fellow protesters will point out that the company has terrified 3,400 mice and rats in the test since 1993, with nothing to show for it.

When:    Thursday, September 10, 12 noon

Where:    639 Delaware St. (at the intersection with E. McCarty Street), Indianapolis

In the test (see this video), mice, hamsters, or other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning, purportedly to shed light on human depression. Eventually, often exhausted, they float. The test has been heavily criticized by scientists who argue that floating is not a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment. Statistically, the test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Between 1993 and 2019, Eli Lilly employees published at least 20 papers and submitted at least 11 patent applications describing the use of the notorious test.

“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 more than a dozen other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, and ban this useless test.”

GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, and many other pharmaceutical companies have banned the forced swim test after discussions with PETA.

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 PETA.org.

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