Eli Lilly CEO Richard Wood Oversaw Prozac Launch

Longtime chief also bet on synthetic insulin and survived disastrous introduction of arthritis drug

No one could accuse Richard Wood of flightiness. Having singled out Eli Lilly & Co. as the most desirable employer in his hometown of Indianapolis, he joined the pharmaceutical company in 1950 as a 23-year-old fresh out of the Wharton business school and stayed for 43 years, including nearly 19 as chief executive.

He presided over the late-1980s launch of Prozac, which became the world’s top-selling antidepressant while changing the way depression is treated and helping erase the stigma that impeded public discussion of...