History of Eli Lilly & Co.

A photo of Colonel Eli Lilly, his son Josiah Kirby Lilly Sr., and grandson Eli Lilly Jr.

"Founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1876 by Colonel Eli Lilly, with a capital of $1,400 and four employees, including his fourteen year old son, it has operated continuously from its headquarters there since that time. Today, with net sales nearing the three-billion-dollar mark, Lilly employs 29, 000 people in the research, manufacture and marketing of products in the fields of human medicine, agriculture, medical instrument systems and cosmetics. It has more than thirty manufacturing facilities in the United States and abroad and distributes its products in 130 countries. Members of the Lilly family were active in the management of the firm during its first one hundred years of operations. "

- p. 233, Eli Lilly & Co. by Gene E. Mc Cormick in History of Pharmacy and the Pharmaceutical Industry (1982)

"Still another area of increasing influence is public "education". This is accomplished through myriad means, subtle and not so subtle, which now permeate the fabric of our society. The most commonly used methods are public relations, "public service", and advertising.
Large pharmaceutical companies maintain enormous public relations departments, which closely follow every development related to their drugs and proactively spin-control potentially damaging issues in the media. To cite just one example, in the fall of 1996 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study raising concerns about the taking of Prozac by pregnant women. The study, which followed almost 500 pregnancies, found no increase in the rate of major structural abnormalities in newborns whose mothers had taken Prozac during the pregnancy. But an unusually high incidence of three or more minor malformations were observed in the newborns exposed to Prozac during the first trimesters... When mothers took Prozac during the third trimester, infants had lower birth weights and shorter birth lengths, which the researchers suggested were due to the drug's appetite-suppressant effects. Of even greater concern was a higher incidence of premature delivery and neonatal complications requiring that infants be admitted to special-care nurseries.
Publicly, Eli Lilly took the position that Prozac should not be prescribed to pregnant women because this population of patients has not been adequately studies for the risks involved. Knowing the research would make national headlines because of the large number of women on Prozac, however, the day before the study was published media outlets were flooded with a press release entitled "Health Wire" originated from Indianapolis, Indiana, Lilly's hometown. The release criticized the article, saying that "independent" mental health experts questioned its validity. The press release provided the names of nine medical experts around the country who could answer reporters' questions and potentially be quoted in media reports of the New England Journal of Medicine article. Prominently quoted in the release and topping the list of experts was Dr. Lee Cohen of the Massachusetts General Hospital, a vocal defender of the use of serotonin boosters during pregnancy. By chance, the same month as the "Health Wire" press release, I attended a Harvard Medical School conference at which Cohen spoke. Tucked inside the conference syllabus was a "faculty disclosure statement" in whcih Cohen reported receiving funding-"grants" and "speaker's bureau" fees- from Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and SmithKline Beecham. His financial ties to all three manufacturers of the biggest selling serotonin boosters were not disclosed in the press release, which heavily quoted Cohen and suggested reporters call him. The press release specifically referred to "independent" mental health experts, which connotes doctors who are not employed by pharmaceutical companies. Obviously, to call experts "independent" and not disclose these kinds of behind-the -scenes financial arrangements is seriously misleading...
[Y]ear round screening [of depression] is available in some locations. The automated, interactive program, which takes less than four minutes, inquires into ten different symptoms by asking the caller to rate statements such as "I have trouble sleeping through the night" or "I get tired fro no reason". After each question, the caller is instructed, "Press 1 for none or a little of the time. Press 2 for some of the time. Press 3 for a good part of the time. Press 4 for most of the time". At the end of the questions, the caller's score is analyzed by computer and he is told how severe his symptoms are. Early on, a recorded operator-like voice informs the caller that you may think that your symptoms are "a personal inability to cope with the pressures of life, but most often these symptoms are the result of clinical depression, an illness which responds extremely well to treatment." The 800 numbers are even individualized for special populations and will immediately link the caller to facilities like employee assistance programs, university health services, hospitals or insurers.
This screening is operated by a nonprofit organization called National Mental Illness Screening Project. But who pays for the expensive event, including elaborate press kits, screening kits for the test sites and the months of 800 numbers with sound-bite psychiatry? An "educational grant from Eli Lilly & Company"... One of the cruel ironies of the 1990s was that just as insurers cut already minimal mental health benefits for patients, pharmaceutical companies came bearing gifts."
-pp. 226- 229, Behind-the-Scenes Forces in Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D. (2000)

"David Healy... after being offered a $250,000 a year job as a professor of psychiatry and clinical director of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the ... University of Toronto. In November 2000, before taking up the position, he gave a talk stating that Prozac could cause patients to commit suicide. Eli Lilly, Prozac's manufacturer, was a major donor to the hospital. A few weeks later, Healy learned his job offer had been rescinded. He immediately filled a lawsuit, alleging his pandemic freedoms were being denied. This was settled for an undisclosed sum and Healy took a different job, as visiting professor of its faculty of medicine.
The pharmaceutical companies may indeed have played little or no role in deciding the fate of Healy [says Krimsky]. Its values and interests may already have been internalized by the administrative heads of the hospital and university, who needed little prodding to understand their sponsor's concerns.
[This] example, and there are others, show that the inevitable result of an almost universal assumption that private profit and public good are one and the same in medicine."
-p. 138, When The Good Stay Silent in Big Pharma: Exposing the Global Healthcare Agenda by Jacky Law (2006)

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