Friday, June 12, 2009
BioReliance, a 62-year-old Rockville company
that tests health care products on animals for the bioscience
industry, violated federal animal safety regulations seven times in
two incidents last summer.
The violations were made public by an animal rights group, Stop
Animal Exploitation Now! of Milford, Ohio.
"The negligence at BioReliance may have killed as many as 19
animals," said the group's executive director, Michael A. Budkie, in
a statement. "This facility should face serious consequences."
The incidents, which BioReliance self-reported to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service, involved at least three, and possibly about 20, hamsters.
One hamster was found running around inside a walk-in
refrigerator, while another was found alive in a euthanasia bag. An
investigation indicated that "an experienced lab assistant failed to
follow standard operating procedures for euthanizing hamsters,"
according to the USDA report.
Failure to follow procedures "caused undue pain and distress for
2 hamsters and possibly 18 other hamsters," the report said.
In the other incident, also last summer, a hamster was found dead
in a cage after the cage was removed from a sterilizing autoclave.
"It is assumed the animal was alive prior to being placed into the
autoclave …," the report said.
All told, the USDA found seven violations stemming from the two
"BioReliance acknowledges that isolated events involving small
animals the Company uses in mandated medical safety testing occurred
last year," David Walker, the company's vice president and CFO,
wrote in an e-mail to The Gazette.
"Any event of this nature is taken very seriously by the Company.
The company self reported the events and requested inspections by
the USDA. The issues surrounding the events have been corrected and
disciplinary actions were taken. Since these events, the Company has
received two clean inspections by the USDA," Walker wrote.
Budkie called the violations "outrageous" and "very distressing,"
and called for an inspection of BioReliance's facility "by an
independent authority other than the USDA" — namely himself,
accompanied by news media.
A USDA spokeswoman said no enforcement action or penalties have
been levied against BioReliance and confirmed that two subsequent
inspections found the company complying with regulations.
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