Lethal Animal Use at University of Mississippi Medical Center Violates State Law, Doctors Say

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE June 23, 2011
Lethal Animal Use at University of Mississippi Medical Center Violates State Law, Doctors Say
John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Legal Complaint Filed After USDA Cites Center for Deadly Pig Use; Most U.S. Medical Schools Use Nonanimal Methods

JACKSON, Miss.—Live animals are unlawfully used and killed in the medical school curriculum at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, says the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in a state legal complaint filed June 23. PCRM’s complaint calls on the county attorney’s office to halt the school’s live animal lab because it violates Mississippi’s animal cruelty law. This comes on the heels of a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) citation against the medical center for its deadly pig use.

In response to a federal complaint filed by PCRM, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently cited University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for violation of the Animal Welfare Act by failing to properly consider nonanimal training methods. Human patient models and other high-tech nonanimal methods are used by more than 95 percent of U.S. and Canadian medical schools, including Emory University, Vanderbilt University, and Duke University.

“The animal use at the University of Mississippi is inhumane and violates Mississippi’s anticruelty statute,” says John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM senior medical and research adviser. “UMMC’s medical students deserve the best possible educational experience to prepare them to treat their future patients. A pig’s anatomy is different from a person’s, and medical students can get a better education using state-of-the-art, human-centered technology.”

Medical training at UMMC involves cutting into live, anesthetized pigs and performing cardiovascular medical 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 the hearts. After the training session, the animals are killed.

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 without incurring additional costs.

PCRM’s complaint against UMMC, which is being filed with the Hinds County attorney, states, “We believe that the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Medicine should be held criminally liable for its cruelty to animals and request that you investigate the live animal component of the school’s medical student curriculum as soon as possible.” Mississippi’s animal cruelty statute criminalizes conduct that “needlessly mutilate[s]” and “kill[s]” animals.

For a copy of the criminal complaint, the recent USDA citation against UMMC, or an interview with Dr. Pippin, please contact Tara Failey at 202-527-7319 or tfailey@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.

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