Doctors Sue University of California Over Animal Welfare Act Violations
Dog and Monkey Experiments at U. C., San Francisco, Under Fire
SAN FRANCISCO—In a lawsuit filed today in the Superior Court of the state of California, Pia Salk, Psy.D., is joined by five physicians, including professor Larry Hansen, M.D., in alleging that the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is unlawfully using state funds for animal experiments that violate the federal Animal Welfare Act.
For several years government inspectors have documented serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act at UCSF, and in 2005, the university was fined $92,500, reportedly the fourth-largest settlement amount ever paid for violations of this nature. Under California law, taxpayers are entitled to sue if state resources are funding illegal activities and being used to pay the resulting fines.
“UCSF has broken the law in its mistreatment of dogs, monkeys, and other animals used in experiments,” says Dan Kinburn, general counsel for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), the nonprofit group sponsoring the lawsuit. “We are asking the court to halt these unlawful experiments and to appoint an independent monitor to ensure that any future research is in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act.”
“The intent of the Animal Welfare Act is to prevent unnecessary and duplicative experiments such as the ones at UCSF involving hundreds of dogs and monkeys,” says Dr. Hansen, a professor of neurosciences and pathology at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of PCRM. “After an in-depth review of the monkey experiments conducted at UCSF, I have concluded that the procedures cause great pain and distress to the animals while yielding results not applicable to human disease. The experimenter invokes the potential for alleviating Alzheimer’s disease, but the neural system he studies is not even involved in Alzheimer’s disease.”
“As a taxpayer, I’d rather be supporting research that actually benefits human patients,” adds Dr. Hansen. The lawsuit is brought under Code of Civil Procedure section 526a and California common law.
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.