Eli Lilly and Company, Global Powerhouse Business out of Indianapolis

eli-lillyOne of the largest corporations in the world, Eli Lilly and Company is also one of the most powerful of all the great pharmaceutical companies across the globe, with revenues hovering around the twenty billion dollar mark yearly.

This is the legacy of Eli Lilly, who was president of the company from 1932 to 1948, and his grandfather, Colonel Eli Lilly, who founded the company in Indianapolis in 1876. Both famous Eli’s were remarkable businessmen as well as philanthropists, and they both figure prominently in the roster of famous people of Indianapolis.

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Indianapolis has been the proud home of the corporate global headquarters for Eli Lilly and Company since 1876, when the patriarch founded the pharmaceutical business in his name. Colonel Eli Lilly, a renowned veteran of note from the American Civil War, became a pharmacist with a dream that produced historical results. His goal was to open a wholesale pharmaceuticals business that would make high-quality medicines accessible to the masses. He was highly successful during his lifetime, so much so that he was able to become the first in a long family line of philanthropists.


The business has been passed on to various close relatives through the generations, ever-expanding in an astonishing run of success few business magnates have ever seen. Under the reign of grandson and namesake Eli Lilly, Lilly and Company forged inroads in Europe and England, initiated the production of Merthiolate, blood plasma and, in 1943, became the first pharmaceutical in the entire world to mass-produce the new miracle drug, penicillin.

The company went public in 1952 under president Josia K. Lilly, Jr., brother to the younger Eli, but almost immediately leadership of Eli Lilly and Company was relinquished to the first non-family member to take a high position in the firm, Eugene N. Beesley. One of the notable occurrences during this period was the acquisition of Elizabeth Arden, the hugely successful cosmetics company, for just under $40 million dollars in 1971. In 1987, Eli Lilly and Company sold the Elizabeth Arden division for $657 million, to Faberge.

Two of the major products owned by Eli Lilly and Company are Cymbalta, a popular medication to treat anxiety and depression, and Cialis, the main competition for Viagra, sometimes called “the weekend pill” by happy fans. Another world-changing medication manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company is Prozac, for the treatment of clinical depression and control of seratonin uptake in the brain.

Along with many other projects and organizations that benefit Indianapolis community, culture, society and beyond, this extraordinary company has made possible several well-known charities and non-profits in Indianapolis, such as the Lilly Boys & Girls Club, the Lilly Endowment Fund and the beautiful Lilly Mansion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The most famous Lilly heirloom and landmark is the  Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, an Indianapolis monument that receives more visitors than practically any other, housed inside the equally famous Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in the heart of downtown Indianapolis at Monument Circle.

Eli Lilly and Company
Corporate Center
893 S. Delaware
Indianapolis, IN 46285