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  1. News Release

  2. May 9, 2022

Physicians Group Applauds AG Nessel for Calling on State to Finally Regulate Animal Experiments

Currently, No State or Federal Law Requires That Experiments Be “Humane”

LANSING—In a landmark announcement, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a formal opinion Monday that could pave the way for state oversight of animal experiments, more than 40 years after the state Legislature created the authority to do so. In the opinion—which national nonprofit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is praising—the attorney general called on the Department of Health and Human Services to “register entities that keep or use animals for experimental purposes and must restrict registration to only those entities that conduct animal research in a humane manner.” Nessel also explained that DHHS has the authority to inspect laboratories “to determine whether those standards have been met.”

Rep. Matt Koleszar, D-Plymouth, requested the opinion in September 2021, stating, “the federal government’s weak oversight of animal experiments demonstrates the need for greater effort by our state.” As evidence, Rep. Koleszar pointed to the painful, deadly dog studies conducted since 1991 by Wayne State University in Detroit, calling them “some of the cruelest and most long-running animal experiments in the country.” In her statement, Nessel refers to the Wayne State experiments in detail without using the university’s name. 

“Increased oversight is desperately needed,” said Physicians Committee director of research advocacy Ryan Merkley. “DHHS should develop strong rules that prohibit the kind of cruel, scientifically useless dog experiments conducted at Wayne State. This would benefit animals and the people of Michigan, who need human-relevant research.”

In 1978, legislators amended Michigan’s Public Health Code to create an “animal research advisory board” and gave the new entity the authority to “regulate and establish standards … controlling the humane use of animals” in research and testing. At the same time, the Legislature mandated that laboratories using animals register with the state and gave additional oversight authority to the Board. However, the state never created the Board and made no efforts to regulate animal use. Eventually, the Board’s authority was transferred to DHHS, which has not created regulations on the issue of animal experiments and has not required laboratories to register. 

According to thousands of pages of public records, Wayne State staff surgically open the chest cavities and sides of healthy dogs, implant medical devices and catheters in and around major arteries, and “tunnel” cables and wires under the animals’ skin and out through incisions between their shoulder blades. Many dogs die soon after the surgeries due to internal bleeding caused by implanted devices. Every dog who survives the initial surgeries will die during the experiment, in which a device triggers the animals’ hearts to beat at two to three times the normal rate while they run on treadmills. This is by design, as Wayne State experimenters use each dog until his or her body gives out or a device breaks or malfunctions. Despite conducting the experiments for 31 years, Wayne State has been unable to point to a single improvement in patient health that has stemmed from them.

To interview Mr. Merkley or see copies of Wayne State records, please contact Reina Pohl at 202-527-7326 or rpohl [at] (rpohl[at]pcrm[dot]org)

Media Contact

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.

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