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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE April 7, 2005

PCRM Group Files Suit in Ohio Supreme Court Over OSU's

PCRM Files Suit for Release of Controversial Spinal Cord Injury Techniques Course Video

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed suit today in Ohio Supreme Court seeking to force Ohio State University to release photographs and video- and audiotape footage of its controversial Spinal Cord Injury Techniques Training Course. PCRM has sued for release of the materials under the Ohio Public Records Act.

Sometimes called “Cruelty 101,” the OSU course requires students to surgically expose the spinal cords of mice and rats and drop heavy weights on them in a vain attempt to imitate human spinal cord injuries and paralyses.

Over the three-week course, more than 260 mice and rats are injured then put through additional painful surgeries and a host of invasive laboratory procedures and behavioral exercises before they are finally killed.

“This class is a pointless exercise in animal cruelty,” said PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “It does nothing to advance human spinal cord research or find cures for paralysis. Other techniques such as human neural cell lines, impact studies on cadavers, advanced imaging and electrophysiological techniques, and a host of clinical trials, make the OSU course as unnecessary as it is irrelevant.”

The lawsuit comes on the heels of an announcement in February by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that it would investigate complaints by PCRM that the OSU course violates federal animal welfare regulations. NIH is a major funder of the spinal cord injury course under a five-year grant.

The OSU course is scheduled for July 15-20. This will be the third year Ohio State has held the class.

Beginning in June 2004, PCRM made multiple requests for documents, photographs, and video- and audiotapes of the class and procedures, but the university has refused to comply fully, claiming photographs and videotapes of the procedures are protected under the intellectual property exception to the Ohio Public Records Act.

“We believe these videotapes will demonstrate that OSU staff and students are causing severe animal suffering,” said Karen Boyd Williams, PCRM associate general counsel. “It is time to end the secrecy. As a public university, OSU has a legal obligation of accountability to the public that supports it. We will do our talking in court from now on.”

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:
Jeanne S. McVey

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