Our History

Eli Lilly and Company, a global research-based pharmaceutical company, opened its Hong Kong offices in 1984 as Eli Lilly Asia Inc.

The company was originally founded in 1876 by Colonel Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the Midwestern section of the United States. 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:

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

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.