Complaint filed against Scott Twp. lab over experiments on beagles
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

ACTION ALERT:

Contact:

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
(919) 855-7100
[email protected]
[email protected]

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against Calvert Laboratories for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence caused severe eye pain to dozens of beagles. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

 

Complaint filed against Scott Twp. lab over experiments on beagles

From Terrie Morgan-Besecker, TheTimes-Tribune.com, March 6, 2020

A Lackawanna County laboratory that uses animals to test drugs for the biopharmaceutical industry halted an experiment after a chemical applied to the eyes of several dozen dogs caused them to yelp in pain, according to a complaint filed by an animal rights group.

Michael A. Budkie, cofounder of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate whether Calvert Laboratories, 130 Discovery Drive, Scott Twp., provided veterinary care to 32 beagles that were part of an experiment in May.

Calvert CEO Michael Recny, Ph.D, , said the company immediately halted the experiment and had a veterinarian who specializes in ophthalmology examine the dogs. He said a press release Budkie issued that alleges Calvert broke federal law contains misleading statements and factual errors.

“These accusations are totally false and without any basis,” Recny said.

SAEN is a nonprofit group based in Milford, Ohio that opposes animal testing. At issue is an incident report Calvert filed in January with the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which reveals a number of the dogs showed signs of distress, including pawing at their eyes, squinting and crying in pain. Budkie said he obtained the report through the Freedom of Information Act.

The report, which does not identify the substance applied to the dogs’ eyes, notes researchers immediately suspended the experiment. It does not indicate if the dogs were treated to relieve their pain. That could be a potential violation of the federal laws that mandate test animals be treated humanely, Budkie said.

“That’s why we are calling for an investigation,” Budkie said in a phone interview. “Obviously, these animals should have received veterinary care.”

Recny said the animals were immediately treated. He said all the dogs recovered and none suffered permanent damage. Calvert did not include that information in the report, however, because the report’s purpose is solely to notify the NIH of the protocols used in the study.

Recny provided the newspaper a copy of a letter the NIH sent in response to the report, which outlines the steps Calvert took and commends the company for establishing protocols for humane treatment of lab animals. He criticized Budkie for not contacting Calvert to get more information before issuing the press release.

“This organization is known to be incredibly irresponsible and to not do their homework to understand the full facts of the case,” Recny said.

Budkie defended his handling of the matter. He said he is aware of the NIH’s response, but he is suspicious of the agency’s handling of these types of issues.

“The office of laboratory animal welfare is a rubber stamp on things like this,” Budkie said. “That’s why we want the USDA to look into it. It’s the agency that has regulatory power of this.”

Recny noted the USDA already reviewed the incident as part of its annual inspection of Calvert, which coincidentally took place the day after the test was halted. The inspection report, which is not yet publicly available, found no violations in this or any other test, he said.

Calvert uses animals for experiments that aid the biopharmaceutical industry in developing experimental drugs to treat diseases in humans, Recny said. The companies are mandated to test drugs on animals before they can be approved for human use.

Animal research facilities are required to file an annual report with the USDA that shows the number of experiments in three categories: those that caused no pain; those that caused pain, but it was relieved by an anesthetic or tranquilizer; and those that caused pain, but no anesthetic was provided because it would impact the results of the experiment.

Reports Calvert filed show the company conducted experiments on 9,819 animals from 2014 to 2018, including 2,984 dogs. Other animals include: guinea pigs, 2,153; rabbits, 3,396 and non-human primates, 949.

The reports show 2,469, or 83%, of the dogs were involved in experiments that caused no pain; 467, or 16%, experienced pain, but were provided anesthetics or tranquilizers; 48, or 1.6% experienced pain, but were not provided any anesthetics because it would impact the results of the experiment.

Recny said Calvert has been in business for about 20 years and takes great steps to ensure animals are treated humanely. A committee reviews and approves each experiment.

“We take our responsibility very, very seriously and use the most humane forms of treatment,” Recny said.

Annual USDA inspection reports filed from 2014 to 2018, show Calvert has been in compliance with all regulations each year except for 2016. That report says the company inaccurately classified one experiment as causing no pain when in fact the animals experienced momentary pain and Calvert also failed to document that it investigated if there were alternatives that would not cause pain.

The NIH report filed on the beagle experiment does not explain the nature of the experiment or the company for which it was conducted. Recny said he could not release that information because it is confidential.

The report says the experiment began on May 14 and was suspended the next day. The client believed a storage issue may have altered the chemical. A new batch was sent and the study resumed on May 28. It was again immediately halted because the dogs again showed distress.

Recny said the client wanted Calvert to conduct the test again, but it refused to do so.

Budkie acknowledged Calvert did the right thing in suspending the study. He said he is not convinced the company followed all regulations, however.

“It’s an unusual enough situation and serious enough situation that we feel it should be evaluated by the USDA,” Budkie said.

Budkie said hopes his complaint sheds light on the controversial practice of animal testing. He said he formerly worked in an animal testing lab and cofounded SAEN because of abuses he saw in the industry.

“At the very least, we believe what happened to these dogs and the pain they endured should engender a public discussion about what happens in places like this,” Budkie said.

See also:
Return to Media Coverage