Physicians Committee Statement: Doctors Sue Government for Hiding Animal Welfare Data

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE February 13, 2017
Physicians Committee Statement: Doctors Sue Government for Hiding Animal Welfare Data
From Mark Kennedy, Vice President of Legal Affairs

In our work to modernize and humanize research and medical training through the replacement of animal use, the Physicians Committee depended on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal welfare database, which was shut down on Feb. 3, 2017. Today, we are taking legal action to restore it.

The Physicians Committee is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that requires the USDA to immediately restore its Animal Care Information System, a website that included a searchable database of reports on how animals are used in laboratories and whether those facilities are complying with the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The database was essential in our work to end animal experiments that were not furthering human health research. We used it to shut down Harvard’s New England Primate Research Center. Its records also helped us stop 186 chimpanzees from being transferred to a research facility that violated the Animal Welfare Act more than 30 times in five years.

The lawsuit filed today requests that the USDA and the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service, the agency division that administers the Animal Welfare Act, immediately make the records that have been removed available to the Physicians Committee and other organizations. It also requests that future records are made immediately available without requiring a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

In the meantime, the Physicians Committee has to file FOIA requests for to obtain documents previously available in the online database. These requests can take months or years to complete and may require legal appeals or even lawsuits to obtain the information that used to be freely available.

The simple solution is to immediately restore the database.

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 and medical training.