Thursday, January 30, 2014

Merck Joins NIH And IOM In Ending Chimp Testing

Pete Loftus writing for The Wall Street Journal has the story -- now that there are many other ways to get essentially the same safety data -- before testing in humans -- it is beyond high time that this practice of doing research on chimps end.

Last June, reacting to an Institute of Medicine study Congress had requested that concluded nearly all chimp research is unnecessary, the NIH announced it would retire and send about 90 percent of government-owned research chimps to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Keithville, La. It's now home to about 160 chimps, with nearly 60 more to arrive soon. That's a nice start. Pete as ever handles it deftly, here -- do go read it all:

. . . .Ms. Conlee said chimps have cognitive and emotional abilities that can make them vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder when used in lab settings. She also said many have been warehoused as newer, alternative methodologies were developed. She estimated about 850 chimps are in labs in the U.S.

The IOM also said newer technologies have brought alternatives to using chimps, including genetically modified mice and computer simulations. Merck didn't specify which alternative methodologies it would use in lieu of chimps.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally requires animal testing for proposed new drugs to measure things such as how much of a drug is absorbed into blood, but has said it supports efforts to reduce unnecessary animal testing.

The National Institutes of Health said last year it would significantly reduce the use of chimps in research and "retire" most of the chimps it owns or supports. Retired chimps were to be sent to wildlife sanctuaries.

Merck has made limited use of testing drugs in chimps, the spokeswoman said. . . .

Yes, this is an encouraging development -- on several fronts. [Pfizer agreed to take the same steps.] Sleep well -- one and all.

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