Primate Center Criticized for Foul-up that Left Two Monkeys Dead

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Primate Center Criticized for Foul-up that Left Two Monkeys Dead

By Bryan Denson, OregonLive.com

"This is clear negligence and incompetence," said Michael Budkie, the group's executive director. "And it has to cast doubt on the validity of any research performed within this facility, and it also has to begin to question the enforcement system of the USDA."

An animal-rights group [Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN)] is criticizing researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Center for a foul-up last April that left two monkeys dead.

The incident was noted in a Nov. 18 inspection report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which conducts routine inspections of biomedical research labs. Copies of the report were sent to news media today by the Ohio-based nonprofit Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

"This is clear negligence and incompetence," said Michael Budkie, the group's executive director. "And it has to cast doubt on the validity of any research performed within this facility, and it also has to begin to question the enforcement system of the USDA."

The two rhesus macaque monkeys died as part of a study aimed at preserving fertility in women cancer patients who undergo radiation and chemotherapy, said Jim Newman, a spokesman for the primate center.

The animals were given a drug, RCA-120, which is used to identify new blood vessels associated with transplanted ovarian tissue. That drug, Newman and the USDA noted, was not approved for use in monkeys.

One of the monkeys died after receiving the drug and another, still under anesthesia when the mistake was discovered, was put down before it could wake up, Newman said.

"If the animals suffered pain, it was very short lived," he said. "A matter of hours."

Officials at the primate center, an affiliate of Oregon Health & Science University, investigated the incident, retrained those involved and came up with a plan to prevent further breakdowns in communication, Newman said.