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Eli Lilly was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1838. In 1854 he moved to Lafayette, Indiana, to live with his aunt and uncle and learn a trade. He took up an apprenticeship at Good Samaritan Drug Store. He would spend nearly five years as an apprentice there. In 1860 he opened his own drug store. However soon war called.

Eli Lilly was appointed by the governor of Indiana to recruit, organize, and lead the 18th Indiana Battery of Light Artillery despite the fact that his only military experience was as a member of a militia unit (I guess having connections is a good thing). On August 20, 1862 the battery was mustered into service under the command of Captain Eli Lilly. Military life turned out to be a bit more than Lilly bargained for. He later remarked that he lived on whiskey, quinine, and tobacco while in the service. Lilly's Brigade, participated in the following campaigns during the civil war:

Kentucky 1862
Roscrans' Campaign in Tennessee 1863
East Tennessee 18631864
Against Atlanta 1864
Pursuit of Hood 1864
Wilson's Raid through Alabama and Georgia 18641865
Tennessee 1865

However Lilly himself was not with the battery for the latter half of their campaigns. You see, in the winter of 1863 Lilly left the battery to accept a colonel's appointment in the cavalry. He and his cavalry were captured and later paroled by General Forrest at Sulphur Trestle in Alabama.

After returning to civilian life Eli Lilly acquired a laboratory on Pearl Street in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1876 and started Eli Lilly and Company with $1,400 in capital.

Lilly was frustrated by the poorly prepared, often ineffective medicines of his time. Consequently, he made the commitment to develop only medicines that would be dispensed at the suggestion of physicians rather than by eloquent sideshow hucksters of his time.
Lily’s desire to innovate led him to hire a young chemist to function as a full-time research scientist in 1886. This commitment to research has paid his company rich dividends. For instance, the innovative process of gelatin-coating pills helped establish the success of the company.

Eli Lilly also began his family’s long history of philanthropy. In 1893 he chaired a committee to help indigents during that year's financial panic. His "Indianapolis plan of relief" (1894) became a model for helping the unemployed. He also donated money to build a children's hospital.

After his death in 1898 Colonel Lilly's son, Josiah K. Lilly Sr., and two grandsons, Eli Lilly and Josiah K. Lilly Jr., each served as president of the company.

In 1919, biochemist George Henry Alexander Clowes was hired as director of biochemical research at Eli Lilly and Company. Clowes' negotiations with researchers who developed insulin at the University of Toronto helped launch the first successful large-scale production of insulin in 1923. The success of insulin enabled the company to attract well-respected scientists and, with them, make more medical advances.

In 1937 three members of the Lilly family (J.K. Lilly Sr. and his two sons, J.K. Jr. and Eli), founded the Lilly Endowment as a way to retain control of Eli Lilly and Company, decrease income and inheritance taxes and continue and expand the family’s charitable gifts. The Endowment was started through gifts of stock in Eli Lilly and Company valued at $280,000.

World War II brought production at Eli Lilly and Company to a new high with the manufacturing of Merthiolate and blood plasma. In 1943, full-scale production of penicillin began.

In 1948 J. K. Lilly Sr. died and willed an additional $30 million of company stock to the Lilly Endowment.

In 1952, the first public shares of stock in Eli Lilly and Company were offered.

In 1953, Eugene N. Beesley was named president. He was the first non-family member to run the company.

The drug company was in the forefront in manufacturing the Salk polio vaccine in 1955.

Through all this time the value of the stock in the Lilly Endowment had been growing. The 1969 Tax Reform Act caused the endowment to increase its grant pay-outs. According to this act, all foundations are required to pay either five percent of their assets or income, whichever is greater. Therefore, the Endowment’s giving rose from about, $9 million in the late 1960s to over $50 million by the mid-1970s.

Richard Wood was named CEO of Lilly in 1973. During the 1970s and 1980s, Eli Lilly &. Co. saw a flurry of drug production: the antibiotic Keflex in 1971; the heart drug Dobutrex in 1977; Ceclor - which would become the world's top selling oral antibiotic - in 1979; a leukemia drug Eldisine; the antiarthritic Oraflex; and the analgesic Darvon.

Not every Lilly venture was successful. Oraflex, the American version of Benoxaprofen, was withdrawn from the market in 1982 - just one month after gaining FDA approval. A British medical journal found five cases of death due to jaundice in patients taking the drug and the FDA accused Lilly of suppressing unfavorable research findings. In 1985, the U.S. Justice Department filed criminal charges against the company. Lilly pleaded guilty to 25 criminal counts and paid a $25,000 fine.

Also in 1982 Eli Lilly launched Humulin, making it the first company to market a genetically engineered product.

In 1985, the controversial antidepressant drug Prozac was marketed in Belgium, and in 1988 it was introduced in the United States. By 1999 sales of Prozac exceeded $28 billion.

In 1991, Vaughn Bryson was named CEO. During his 18-month tenure, the company reported its first quarterly loss ever. Randall Tobias, former vice-chairman of AT&T, was named Bryson's replacement in 1993. He was the first official recruited outside of the company.

In 1998, the Lilly Endowment became the wealthiest private charitable foundation in the United States with approximately $3 billion more in assets than the Ford Foundation which previously ranked as the largest for more than thirty years.

Sidney Taurel, former chief operating officer of Lilly was named CEO in 1998, replacing Tobias. Taurel was named chairman in January 1999.

Lilly won approval to sell the bone-strengthening drug Evista in October 1999 to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

In March 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zyprexa for the short-term treatment of acute manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.

In August 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a generic drug company could begin making a Prozac substitute nearly three years earlier than planned. The ruling, which shortened Lilly's patent protection on Prozac from December 2003 to Feb. 2 of 2001 (later extended to Aug. 2, 2001), was a financial blow because Lilly was deriving one quarter of its sales from Prozac.

Eli Lilly and Company employs more than 35,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in 159 countries. It had net sales of about $10,862,200,000 and net income of about $3,057,800,000 in the year ending 2000-12-31.

The Lilly Endowment remained the wealthiest private charitable foundation in the United States with assets of $15,591,737,808 in the year ending 2000-12-31. The Endowment made grants totaling $583,890,521 in the year ending 2000-12-31.

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