Court Orders Wayne State to Provide Records of Heart Failure Experiments
A Michigan court has rejected a Wayne State University lawsuit that attempted to stop the Physicians Committee from accessing public records showing the details of its heart failure experiments on dogs.
Since 2001, at least $5 million in U.S. government funds have gone to Wayne State experimenters who have used dogs—including animals obtained from local shelters—in experiments to try to replicate heart failure in humans. The experiments, which have included implanting devices into dogs’ hearts and blood vessels to induce hypertension and forcing them to run on treadmills, have led to controversy.
In the new ruling, the judge rejected Wayne State’s arguments in favor of maintaining secrecy, explaining that Wayne State’s basis for withholding public records went beyond the Michigan Freedom of Information Act’s allowed exemptions. The judge ordered Wayne State to provide the records to the Physicians Committee.
According to records obtained previously by the Physicians Committee, Charlie, a hound-Labrador mix, was operated on twice to place medical devices in her body and had weeping wounds where catheters protruded. Jessie, a husky, died suddenly six days after her first surgery. The Physicians Committee has obtained a photo of Queenie, a Dalmatian mix, who died in Wayne State’s laboratory in 2010.
“Now that the facts can finally be made public, it will be clear that the experiments are cruel,” said Leslie Rudloff, senior counsel for the Physicians Committee. “There is no shortage of better research methods.”
In September 2012, the Physicians Committee requested updated records about Wayne State’s heart experiments. In November, the university responded by refusing to provide any details on the experiments and filing a lawsuit in the Wayne County circuit court to assert that it should be exempt from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. On Dec. 18, the Physicians Committee filed a counterclaim, asking the court to require Wayne State to provide the records.
“We need to shift the focus to research that is relevant to humans,” says cardiologist John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., the Physicians Committee’s director of academic affairs. “That means population studies, human-based basic science and clinical trials, especially. Modeling heart failure in animals has not proved its worth.”
Epidemiological studies such as the Framingham Study and the Methodist Study have allowed researchers to identify the causes of heart failure, and human clinical trials provide details into specific aspects of the disease.
Ask NIH to stop funding heart failure experiments on dogs at PCRM.org/HeartFailure.
TAKE ACTION: Ask NIH to Reform Heart Failure Research
The Physicians Committee is pushing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to withdraw millions of dollars in funding from university research during which devices are surgically implanted in dogs—like Queenie—before forcing the animals to run on treadmills.
Queenie was sold to a university laboratory that performs cruel, unnecessary experiments on live animals. In the lab, Queenie and countless other healthy dogs were cut open, devices were implanted in their blood vessels, and they were forced to run on treadmills. Then the experimenters induced hypertension in Queenie by reducing the flow of blood to her kidneys. After nine torturous months, Queenie was killed.
It is too late for Queenie, but not thousands of animals like her.
MORE> Please politely urge NIH director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., to withdraw funding from the use of dogs in heart failure research. Go to PCRM.org/HeartFailure.