Doctors Applaud NIH Transfer of New Iberia Chimpanzees to Sanctuary
National Institutes of Health Retires All Its Chimpanzees from New Iberia Research Center to Chimp Haven Sanctuary
WASHINGTON—The National Institutes of Health will retire all of its chimpanzees used in experiments at New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana to the Chimp Haven federal sanctuary. The announcement follows a public appeal from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) after NIH initially said about 100 of the chimpanzees would go to the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, a laboratory that was fined more than $25,000 for violating the Animal Welfare Act.
“Chimp Haven is the retirement NIH’s New Iberia chimpanzees rightfully deserve,” says Elizabeth Kucinich, PCRM’s director of government affairs. “I look forward to the day when all chimpanzees are made ineligible for experimentation and can spend their days in sanctuaries.”
Initially, NIH planned to transfer just 10 of the chimpanzees to Chimp Haven in Louisiana. PCRM immediately denounced that plan through media and member communications. Kucinich flew to Louisiana, visited Capitol Hill, and worked with other organizations to make sure that all of the chimpanzees were permanently retired to sanctuary. Now, NIH will transfer the more than 100 chimpanzees to the sanctuary over the next 12-15 months.
Last year, an Institute of Medicine committee charged with examining the necessity of chimpanzee experimentation could not find a single area of health research for which the animals are essential. At its first hearing, PCRM director of academic affairs John Pippin, M.D., was asked by the Institute of Medicine panel to testify on the use of human cells and other high-tech alternatives to replace chimpanzees in medical research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer conducts chimpanzee experiments, according to a letter the agency wrote to PCRM. “Consistent with the findings of the IOM panel, CDC no longer conducts chimpanzee research,” wrote Tanja Popovic, M.D., Ph.D., CDC deputy associate director for science, to Dr. Pippin.
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.