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Breast Cancer Advocacy Group Targeting Eli Lilly

A breast cancer advocacy group is targeting Indiana’s largest pharmaceutical company, calling on Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company to stop producing a hormone given to cows to produce more milk. The California-based Breast Cancer Action group is targeting Lilly as the sole manufacturer of Posilac (POHZ a lak), a manufactured hormone designed to mimic naturally-occurring hormones in cows.

The group, which credits its recent success getting Yoplait to remove hormones from its yogurt, plans to purchase billboard space in Indianapolis, pressuring Lilly on the matter.

Spokesperson Kim Irish says independent research shows a link between the drug and breast and prostate cancers, and claims Lilly is profiting unfairly.

“Eli Lilly we see as a pink-washer," Irish says, "because they are contributing to breast cancer through their selling of rBGH and then they also manufacturer breast cancer treatment drugs and a drug they claim prevents breast cancer so they’re really profiting…there’s a full cycle of profits here that seems really unfair to us.”

But Lilly spokespeople say the research they’ve done after buying the drug from the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, shows the drug is safe. They assert there’s no difference between milk sold from cows given the hormone and those that are not. Dennis Erpelding says drug effects were tested in order to gain FDA approval.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed the data," Erpelding says. "International organizations, such as the World Health Organizations, the FAO, their scientific expert bodies, have reviewed the data, and all these scientific organizations have established that the compound can be and is used safely for dairy cow milk production.

The hormone is banned in Europe, Japan and Canada. Companies including Wal-Mart and Kroger have also pledged that their store brands will stop buying from suppliers that use the drug.

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