Lilly says Indy Religious Freedom law is discriminatory and may hamper cancer and AD drug development

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

RFRA Indianapolis Protests - 2015 - picture credit Justin Eagan
RFRA Indianapolis Protests - 2015 - picture credit Justin Eagan

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Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law is discriminatory and will make it harder to attract the staff needed to develop drugs for cancer and Alzheimer's disease according to Eli Lilly.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed “Religious Freedom Restoration Act​” into State law last week​ despite concerns the ban on laws that “substantially burden​” a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs would protect those who discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Execs from Apple​ and Salesforce​ have already objected to the law. Indiana-based drugmaker Eli Lilly, which employs around 12,000 in Indianapolis, also has concerns about the Religious Freedom law’s impact.

Janice Chavers, Lilly’s director of global diversity and HR Communications, told that: “We certainly understand the implications this legislation has on our ability to attract and retain employees. As we recruit, we are searching for top talent all over the world.

We need people who will help find cures for such devastating diseases as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Many of those individuals won’t want to come to a state with laws that discriminate​.”

Chavers also said Lilly is “concerned that divisive actions like this divert the state’s attention away from pressing issues like education and economic development​” adding that “the outcome on this particular piece of legislation has been disappointing​.”

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff​ said the firm would rethink its plans in Indiana as a result of the law in a move that has been copied by others who oppose the legislation.

Lilly, which has been headquartered in Indiana for 139 years, did not respond when we asked if the Religious Freedom law would prompt it to change its investment plans.

Neither did the firm comment when we asked if the law – or similar proposals currently being considered in other US states – would make it more likely for drugmakers to outsource to countries lacking potentially discriminatory legislation.


Would you relocate to a state that has a similar Religious Freedom law for a pharmaceutical industry job?

  • Yes

  • No

  • No - such laws are discriminatory


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