Hard-Fought Victory for Animals at Medical College of Wisconsin

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Hard-Fought Victory for Animals at Medical College of Wisconsin

From Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
March 2010

At the end of February, 2010, a Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) representative announced that the college has permanently ended the use of pigs in a cardiovascular lab that once used dogs. Instead, students will observe human patients and use computer simulation in the first-year physiology course. The college first piloted this human- and computer-based program after a February 2009 PCRM demonstration at MCW.

Hundreds of demonstrators braving frigid Wisconsin winters. Tens of thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls from PCRM members and supporters. Billboards on busy Wisconsin highways. After years of efforts like these by PCRM and its members, the Medical College of Wisconsin finally announced it has stopped using pigs in its first-year physiology course and likely stopped using frogs, rats, and rabbits.

Last week, a Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) representative announced that the college has permanently ended the use of pigs in a cardiovascular lab that once used dogs. Instead, students will observe human patients and use computer simulation in the first-year physiology course. The college first piloted this human- and computer-based program after a February 2009 PCRM demonstration at MCW.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Inside Higher Ed both covered PCRM’s role in MCW’s recent decision. The campaign has also received extensive media coverage over the past several years.

MCW used rabbits, frogs, and rats in other physiology labs as recently as January. But a school spokesperson says these small animal labs are under review and may not be offered next year.

“We're delighted they have come as far as they have,” said PCRM senior medical and research adviser John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C. “What we don't understand is why they don't get rid of their other animal labs, which are equally useless.”

Following are a few of the milestones that led to this recent victory:

PCRM will continue to urge MCW to end animal use in all of its physiology labs in favor of superior human-based alternatives. Ninety-five percent of medical schools in the United States have eliminated live animal laboratories from their curricula.