Doctors Win Major Legal Victory Against New York State Over Primate Experiments

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE November 12, 2010
Doctors Win Major Legal Victory Against New York State Over Primate Experiments
Dan Kinburn, Esq.

Columbia University Researchers Must Turn Over Documents Detailing Drug Addiction Studies, Court Rules

WASHINGTON—State officials cannot withhold documents detailing taxpayer-funded experiments on monkeys conducted by researchers with Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, says the New York State Supreme Court.

The court has just ordered state officials to comply with a request from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) for 10 years of records detailing drug and alcohol addiction experiments on nonhuman primates by three Psychiatric Institute employees. PCRM filed the lawsuit after state officials withheld information requested under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

“The court’s decision is a major victory for all New York taxpayers,” says PCRM general counsel Dan Kinburn. “These researchers have spent millions of dollars in public funds to conduct unnecessary experiments on primates, and New York residents have a right to know what they have been paying for.”

PCRM scientists say the experiments conducted by these scientists, which involve dosing primates with opioid drugs, marijuana, and alcohol, raise scientific and ethical concerns because nonhuman primates are not suitable models for studies of human drug addiction. One researcher named in the lawsuit has been conducting animal addiction experiments for at least three decades without apparent benefits for patients.

“Nonhuman primates do not choose to use drugs and alcohol—they have to be trained to do so,” says John Pippin, M.D., PCRM’s senior medical adviser. “They do not exhibit the complex physical and psychological factors that drive human beings to addiction, and they suffer both physically and mentally when confined in laboratory cages. All this makes them completely unsuitable subjects for addiction research.”

Journalists: For a copy of the Supreme Court ruling on this lawsuit, or to interview Dan Kinburn or Dr. Pippin, please contact Vaishali Honawar at 202-527-7339 or

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.

Media Contact:
Vaishali Honawar
202-527-7339 office
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