Ninety-eight percent of medical schools exclusively use human-relevant devices; UMMC’s substandard pig lab starts Jan. 7
JACKSON, Miss.—Today, a group of 10,000 concerned physicians is offering the University of Mississippi Medical Center a $25,000 grant to transition from the use of live pigs in its physiology course to superior human-relevant training devices. Doctors with nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are also alerting Gov. Phil Bryant that continued training on pigs is potentially harmful to future Mississippi patients.
“By using live pigs in physiology training, the University of Mississippi lags behind 98 percent of other U.S. medical schools that use human-relevant training methods,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Physicians Committee director of academic affairs, who is offering UMMC Dean Dr. James Keeton the grant and writing to Gov. Bryant. “Of the 32 U.S. medical schools opened since 1979, not one has used animals for medical student education. In order to treat future patients effectively, students need to learn using state-of-the-art technology that actually models human physiology.”
Animal use for medical training at UMMC is scheduled to begin Jan. 7 and continue until March 4, 2014. According to public records obtained by the Physicians Committee, the physiology course involves cutting into live pigs and performing cardiovascular physiology procedures. Students place catheters in the arteries and veins of the pigs, block the animals’ arteries, and inject them with drugs. Students then open the pigs’ chest cavities and manipulate their hearts. Many animals will die during the procedures, and those who survive will be killed.
Human patient models and other high-tech nonanimal methods are used by the vast majority of top medical schools, including Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, Harvard University, and Yale University. UMMC currently operates the Medical Advanced Skill and Simulation Education Center. If the center were fully utilized, the university could immediately replace its use of animals.
In 2011, the Physicians Committee filed a legal complaint calling on the Hinds County attorney’s office to halt UMMC’s live animal lab because it violates Mississippi’s animal cruelty law. The complaint followed a U.S. Department of Agriculture citation against the medical center for violating the Animal Welfare Act. The doctor’s group has also run a series of advertisements in local newspapers and produced a mobile billboard targeting UMMC outside a large medical conference.
For a copy of the grant letter, criminal complaint, USDA citation, or the ads, or an interview with Dr. Pippin, please contact Dania DePas at 202-527-7382 or DDePas@PCRM.org.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.