‘Cruel’ animal tests stopped

| January 29, 2018

The deaths of four squirrel monkeys used as subjects in a nicotine addiction study have prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to shut down the research permanently and to establish a council to oversee all animal studies under the agency’s purview, according to a story by Sheila Kaplanjan for the New York Times.

“It is clear the study was not consistent with the agency’s high animal welfare standards,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, said in a statement on Friday. “These findings indicate that FDA’s animal program may need to be strengthened in some important areas.”

Gottlieb has called in an independent investigator to examine the agency’s animal research programs, starting with those at the National Center for Toxicological Research, in Arkansas, where the squirrel monkeys were housed.

FDA researchers are continuing other primate studies, though Gottlieb said he wanted to reduce reliance on them.

The suspended study, begun in 2014, was designed to inform agency officials who have expanded oversight of tobacco products, regulation of e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine delivery devices.

The research was supposed to measure the effects of nicotine on addiction, mostly on young squirrel monkeys though it also included some adults.

The deaths drew the attention of many animal rights activists, including the celebrated primate expert Jane Goodall. In a September letter to Gottlieb, Dr. Goodall accused the researchers of performing cruel and unnecessary nicotine addiction experiments on the squirrel monkeys.

In September, the FDA suspended the studies and started investigating treatment of the animals. They found numerous deficiencies, although the agency has not released an inspection report with details.

Kaplan’s story is at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/health/fda-monkeys-nicotine.html?emc=edit_tnt_20180126&nlid=60534081&tntemail0=y.

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