Biomedical research

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

A 13-member panel appointed
by the National Research Council’s
Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources
is presently revising the NRC Guide for the
Care and Use of Laborary Animals the
standard reference upon which Animal
Welfare Act regulations tend to be based.
The revision is expected to profoundly influ-
ence the shape of forthcoming new regula-
tions on the housing and care of dogs and
nonhuman primates, which have been the
subject of intense lobbying and repeated
court battles ever since an amendment to the
AWA mandating improved dog and primate
care was passed by Congress sans enforce-
ment regulations in 1985. If the NRC stan-
dards are stricter than those mandated by the
AWA regulations, those of the NRC will
nonetheless prevail in any research funded
by the National Institutes of Health. “The
current committee represents only scientists
and academicians, and includes no represen-
tation from the animal protection movement
nor from the public,” objects F. Barbara
Orlans, Ph.D., who as author of In The
Name of Science: Issues in Animal
Experimentation, is both a prominent
researcher and a leading humane advocate.

“Public policy formulation concerning the
standards of animal experimentation requires
value judgements and as such requires input
from the public if the resulting policy is to
have credibility.”
On January 4 the NIH approved
the first fetal tissue experiment in the U.S.
since former President Ronald Reagan
imposed a ban on the use of tissue from abort-
ed fetuses in 1988––a $4.5 million comparison
of two groups of volunteers who suffer from
Parkinson’s Disease, who will not know
whether they are in the experimental group or
the control group. The experimental group
will receive fetal tissue implants through holes
drilled into their skulls while they are anes-
thetized but fully conscious; the control group
will endure the same operation but will not
receive the implants. “It’s incredible,” said
Dr. Samuel Hellman of the University of
Chicago, who designs clinical trials of cancer
treatments. “Even if you accept the premise
that you randomly allocate patients between
the best current therapy and an experimental
therapy, surely drilling holes in somebody’s
head is not the best current therapy.” On
January 6––apparently unaware of that experi-
ment but alarmed by revelations of radiation
experiments conducted on unwitting human
subjects during the Cold War––Senator John
Glenn (D-Ohio) called for “a government-wide
review of all testing programs, from drug tests
at the FDA to military tests at the Defense
Department, to determine if any improper
experiments on humans persist to this day.”
Detailing laboratory animal use by
company or institution, species, and degree
of pain involved, based on Animal Welfare
Act compliance documents filed with the
USDA, the semi-annual reports of the Investor
Responsibility Research Center are the most
authoritative index available to progress in
reduction of animal-based experiments––but
have not been updated since the 1991 publica-
tion of 1989 data. Senior analyst Heidi Welsh
recently told ANIMAL PEOPLE that she
hopes to complete an update covering fiscal
years 1990 and 1991 within this year, after
repeated delay due to incomplete and late
AWA compliance filings.
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