VIDEO: PETA Allies Confront Eli Lilly CEO Over Near-Drowning Test on Animals

For Immediate Release:
June 13, 2023

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Boston – Earlier today, PETA supporters descended on the World Medical Innovation Forum at The Westin Boston Seaport District, disrupting a fireside chat with Eli Lilly CEO David A. Ricks to expose the pharmaceutical company’s shameful refusal to ban the cruel forced swim test. Video footage of the disruption is available here.

In the forced swim or “despair” test, experimenters dose mice, hamsters, or other small animals with a test substance, place them in inescapable beakers of water, and force them to swim to keep from drowning, supposedly to shed light on human depression. Scientists have heavily criticized this test as a poor model of depression, and using it could even rule out effective new drugs. Eli Lilly has tormented a total of 3,400 mice and rats in this test since 1993, but none of those tests produced a single usable antidepressant.

“The public deserves to know that David Ricks is defending a scientifically debunked experiment that forces tiny animals to fear they’ll drown,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “PETA is calling on Eli Lilly to join other major drug companies that have already banned the test.”

It’s not the first time Ricks has faced criticism over the forced swim test. PETA delivered the same message outside his home, during his speech at the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, and at annual Eli Lilly shareholder meetings, and tens of thousands of e-mails from consumers have also urged him to end these tests.

Numerous other companies—including Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie, Roche, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb—have all banned 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, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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