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Six Generations of Caring and Discovery

The Lilly story began 140 years ago, when founder Colonel Eli Lilly combined scientific rigor and passion for discovery, with caring for the individuals and communities the company served. Employees honor his legacy by embodying his call to "Take what you find here and make it better and better." Here are a few examples of how Lilly has made life better.

1906

Lilly continued its humanitarian policies by replacing pharmaceutical supplies lost in natural disasters at no cost to aid those affected by the San Francisco earthquake.

1917

Partnering with American Red Cross, Lilly set up a medical field hospital in France, staffed by Indiana personnel, to treat wounded soldiers of all nationalities during World War I.

1923

Lilly introduced Iletin® (animal-source insulin, Lilly), the world’s first commercially available insulin product, for the treatment of diabetes – then a fatal disease with no effective treatment options.

Lilly Ridgely Lilly, pernicious anemia patient

1928

Lilly introduced a liver-extract product to treat pernicious anemia, a life-threatening blood disorder, that served as a standard of therapy for decades; the company’s academic collaborators later won a Nobel Prize for the discovery.

1937

Lilly family members established the Lilly Endowment to pursue personal philanthropic efforts.

1940s

Lilly was among the first companies to develop a method to mass-produce Penicillin-G, the world’s first widely available antibiotic, marking the beginning of a sustained effort to fight infectious diseases.

1955

Lilly was the first company to manufacture and distribute the Salk Polio Vaccine globally.

1957

Lilly leaders were named co-chair and honorary chair of the first Indianapolis United Fund drive, an effort unifying funds of important charitable institutions to maximize impact; UF would be a driving force behind Lilly volunteer hours and donations for decades to come.

1958

Lilly introduced Vancocin® (vancomycin hydrochloride, Lilly), an antibiotic for infections associated with certain types of resistant bacteria.

1961

Velban® (vinblastine, Lilly), the company’s first oncology drug, was introduced for treatment of several types of cancer.

1967

Lilly Research Centre Limited was established at Erl Wood, UK, Lilly’s first research facility outside of the United States

1982

Lilly introduced Humulin® (human insulin derived from rDNA, Lilly), insulin identical to that produced by the human body, and the world’s first human-health-care product created using recombinant DNA technology.

1986

Lilly introduced Prozac® (fluoxetine hydrochloride, Lilly) in Belgium as a treatment of clinical depression.

1996

Lilly introduced Zyprexa® (olanzapine, Lilly) for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Lilly introduced Gemzar® (gemcitabine hydrochloride, Lilly) a drug for the treatment of pancreatic and non-small-cell lung cancer.

2001

Lilly started the Lilly Camp Care Package program, donating more than $25 million in insulin and supplies to diabetes camps, supported by scholarships and educational resources.

2003

Lilly launched the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership to help address the rising burden of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in some of the world’s most underserved communities.

2004

Lilly introduced Cymbalta® (duloxetine hydrochloride, Lilly) as a treatment for major depressive disorder.

2008

Lilly’s Global Day of Service program was launched, helping friends and neighbors in communities around the world; it ranks among the largest single-day volunteer initiatives of any U.S. company.

2011

Lilly launched Connecting Hearts Abroad, an employee volunteer program that sends dozens of employees annually to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

2011

The Lilly NCD Partnership was created to fight the rising burden of non-communicable diseases; the first five years have focused on diabetes best practices.

2015

Lilly donated $13.2 million to United Way, continuing the commitment to philanthropy begun by Colonel Lilly in the 1800s.