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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

Animal rights activists fight drug testing on primates

Ron Cassie, The Examiner
Apr 26, 2006

BALTIMORE - Several animal rights activists from Stop Animal Exploitation Now and the Baltimore Animal Rights Coalition protested the treatment of primates, specifically squirrel monkeys, at the National Institute for Drug Abuse research lab on The Johns Hopkins University’s Bayview campus off Eastern Avenue.

Michael Budkie, a coordinator with S.A.E.N., a nonprofit Ohio-based research organization, said his group opposed the drug addiction research done on the primates for several reasons, the first being, “the negligent treatment of the animals.” He also said that the National Institutes of Health spends $500 million a year on drug addiction research on animals — money he said could be better spent on treatment for human beings suffering from addiction.

Budkie presented post-mortem records from the federally funded NIH program of squirrel monkeys that either died or were killed at that lab in 2003 and 2004 as evidence. Ten of 19 deaths were either anesthetic overdoses or related to anesthesia procedure in connection with cases of pneumonia, apparently fairly prevalent among the animals. One monkey was judged to be in poor nutritional condition. Others spent up to a decade in the testing program. Budkie added that any research garnered from such neglected animals is tainted.

Erin Marcus, with the Baltimore Animal Rights Coalition, said she wants “the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take a more meaningful role in thoroughly investigating” the conditions at the NIDA lab at Bayview and other universities doing testing.

She said that with typical fines against universities and institutions “the size of Johns Hopkins it amounts to a slap on the wrist.”

Dr. Catherine Sasek, a health science administrator at the National Institute for Drug Research, defended both the Bayview lab’s treatment of animals and the efficacy of its work.

“The animals are very well-cared for and we take into the consideration the animals’ psychological well-being, especially the primates,” said Sasek, who confirmed the $500 million figure. “We learn a tremendous amount from rodents and primates about how the brain responds to drugs and the addiction process.”

But Sasek also said, “We’re not ever going to be able give people a pill to cure their addiction. Any pharmacological treatment has be in conjunction with behavior therapy and changes.”

rcassie@baltimoreexaminer.com 

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