Our Heritage

Eli Lilly and Company, a global, research-based company, opened its Sales and Marketing office at Malaysia in 1979 as Eli Lilly (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Colonel Eli Lilly, Founder, History, Heritage

The company was founded by Colonel Eli Lilly in 1876 at Indianapolis, Ind., in the Midwestern section of the United States. As a 38-year-old pharmaceutical chemist and a veteran of the U.S. Civil War, Colonel Lilly was frustrated by the poorly prepared, often ineffective medicines of his day. Consequently, he made these commitments to himself and to society:

  1. He would found a company that manufactured pharmaceutical products of the highest possible quality.
  2. His company would develop only medicines that would be dispensed at the suggestion of physicians rather than by eloquent sideshow hucksters.
  3. Lilly pharmaceuticals would be based on the best science of the day

His priorities for the company included:

  • Manufacture high-quality products
  • Recruit the best employees
  • Satisfy the customer
  • Develop new products
Research, Discovery, Heritage,

Although his business flourished, Colonel Lilly wasn't satisfied with the traditional methods of testing the quality of his products. In 1886, he hired a young chemist to function as a full-time scientist, using and improving upon the newest techniques for quality evaluation. Together, they laid the foundation for the Lilly tradition: a dedication that first concentrated on the quality of existing products and later expanded to include the discovery and development of new and better pharmaceuticals.

Eventually, 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. And each contributed a distinctive approach to management. Together, these management styles established a corporate culture in which Lilly employees were viewed as the company's most valuable assets, a belief that is still the cornerstone of our corporate philosophy.

Lilly’s Heritage in Discovery of Medicines

Some examples of the milestones of Lilly’s achievements in research and development in the past includes:


Insulin, Type 2 Diabetes, Heritage

Lilly researchers collaborated with scientists at the University of Toronto to develop a process to mass-produce insulin.

The work resulted in the introduction of the world’s first commercial insulin product in 1923 by Eli Lilly and Company.

The most significant breakthrough in diabetes care since the 1920s was marked by Lilly's 1982 introduction of an insulin identical to that produced by the human body.

It was the world's first human-health-care product created using recombinant DNA technology. Lilly later applied this technology to the introduction of a new therapy for growth hormone deficiency in children.

Today, we remain committed to meeting the needs of people with diabetes from medicines to support programs and more.

Life Saving Antibiotics

  • Lilly introduced a new stable and acid-resistant form of penicillin, in 1955.
  • In 1958, we introduced vancomycin - a powerful antibiotic for patients suffering from serious hospital infections associated with certain types of resistant bacteria.
  • We also brought cephalotin - the first of the cephalosporin products as a new class of antibiotics to the world in 1964.
Polio, Heritage, Vaccines

Polio Vaccine

Dr. Jonas Salk developed a method to make polio vaccine from tissue cells grown in the laboratory.
Lilly developed a process to mass-produce the vaccine and became the largest producer of polio vaccine in the world.


Lilly initiated a research program to find a treatment for pernicious anemia, a life-threatening blood disorder, and introduced a liver-extract product that served as a standard of therapy for decades. The company's collaborators on the project, two researchers at Harvard University, later shared a Nobel Prize for the discovery of liver therapy against anemias.