14 Organizations Send Letter Urging Congress to Remove $30 Million in Funding Bill That Would Expand Use of Monkeys in NIH Research
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and 13 other organizations have sent a letter to Congress, urging them to abandon a “dead-end” strategy to avert a purported shortage of nonhuman primates in research. Rather than allocating $30 million in appropriations to build new research facilities, the group, which includes the Physicians Committee; American Anti-Vivisection Society; Animal Legal Defense Fund; Animal Protection New Mexico; Animal Protection Voters; FOUR PAWS USA; Harvard Law School, Animal Law & Policy Clinic; Humane Society Legislative Fund; Humane Society of the United States; JUSTIFY; National Anti-Vivisection Society; New England Primate Conservancy; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; and Rise for Animals, would like Congress to encourage the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to shift to human-relevant research methods, which the group says have the greatest potential for understanding, improving, and protecting human health.
Sent on Tuesday to Appropriations Committee leadership in the House and Senate, Sens. Patty Murray and Susan Collins and Reps. Kay Granger and Rosa DeLauro, the letter urges the removal of two provisions currently included in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies legislation. The group argues that the provisions in question perpetuate a flawed strategy that does not reliably predict safety and efficacy in clinical trials due to differences in nonhuman animal and human biology and that ignores the inherent cruelty of using sentient animals that experience pain and traumatic stress in captivity and invasive procedures.
The letter details innovative research methods that can help researchers develop and deliver lifesaving tools and knowledge faster, at a lower cost, and without inflicting cruelty on animals. Methods highlighted include three-dimensional human-based in vitro technologies such as organoids and tissue chips, which can “reliably mimic human biology and clinical responses in many applications due to their physiological relevance to humans.”
“Americans value the U.S. as a scientific leader, but our position has changed in recent years, as other countries have taken definitive steps to reduce their reliance on animals. To be effective in the field of medical research, we need to continually reevaluate our methods and strategies, making updates and changes when we can do better,” says Ann Lam, PhD, medical research program director with the Physicians Committee. “It doesn’t serve Americans, the world, or the animals to perpetuate and expand an unsustainable and flawed scientific approach. We must keep building on recent progress to focus on human-specific strategies for discovery of lifesaving information, tools, and therapies applicable to human health.”
For a copy of the letter or to speak with Dr. Lam, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] pcrm.org (rpohl[at]pcrm[dot]org).
Reina Pohl, MPH
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.