Medical testing lab with N.J. ties responsible for 39 guinea pig deaths
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ACTION ALERT:

Contact USDA to demand a MAX FINE against JHP Pharmaceuticals:

Dr Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
919-855-7100
Betty.J.Goldentyer@usda.gov
aceast@aphis.usda.gov

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against JHP Pharmaceuticals for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence allowed 39 guinea pigs to die of heat prostration. Their behavior must NOT be tolerated & MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The time is NOW to send a clear message with stiff penalties to these renegade, negligent facilities that these behaviors will NOT be tolerated!

Medical testing lab with N.J. ties responsible for 39 guinea pig deaths
By Kathleen O'Brien, NJ.com, July 10, 2015

A Rockland County, N.Y., company's failure to protect lab animals at one of its facilities resulted in the death of 39 guinea pigs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The guinea pigs died of heat stress after the air conditioning went out at the company's Sterile Products division in Rochester, Mich., on May 26. Although temperature alarms were sounded and building maintenance notified, the animals ended up spending over seven hours in 100-degree heat, according to the USDA report.

"Despite the high temperatures in a building housing animals, animal care personnel were not notified and no thought was given to the fact the guinea pigs were being exposed to high, potentially life-threatening temperatures for an extended length of time," said the inspection report.

The following morning, animal facility workers found 35 dead guinea pigs. Another animal died the following day, and three more had to be euthanized. Necropsies - or animal autopsies - indicated they died from heat stress.

"The incident was most unfortunate. We take our responsibilities for animal care and welfare very seriously," said Stephen Mock, a spokesman for PAR Pharmaceutical, which is headquartered in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y. and has affiliate offices in Woodcliff Lake and Parsippany.

The Parsippany office received the USDA report because it is the administrative and sales office for the division responsible for the deaths. It was called JHP Pharmaceuticals until it was purchased by PAR in 2014, according to Mock.

An animal-rights group, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, has asked the USDA to fine the company the largest amount allowable by law, which was be $10,000 per violation per animal, for a total of $390,000.

"If they slaughter animals through their negligence and no penalty is levied against them, then what real motivation do they have to correct the problem," said Michael Budkie, executive director of the group, which concentrates on the treatment of laboratory animals.

"These animals clearly must have suffered horribly, and so this extremely negligent facility must be punished severely," he wrote in the group's letter to the USDA. He accused the company of having "literally cooked these guinea pigs to death."

Mock said the guinea pigs basically live at the Rochester facility, where once every six weeks they are subjected to a topical test of the company's diagnostic antigen for its tuberculosis skin test - the same test ultimately given to people. The testing procedure, which is required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is to make sure the product is active.

The guinea pigs "are well cared for," and live as long as five years there he said.

He said he did not anticipate any fine from the USDA. "To the best of our knowledge, the case is closed," he said.

After the deaths were discovered, the company reported the accident to the USDA, as required. The federal inspection, conducted June 11, concluded that corrective measures had been put in place by the company to prevent such deaths from happening again.

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