Big Pharma shunning chimpanzee-based research; Merck the latest

About two dozen pharmaceutical companies and labs have now pledged to stop doing tests and research on chimpanzees. Merck & Co, Inc. becomes the latest company to add it name to that list, a move applauded by animal welfare activists.

According to a Humane Society of the United States media release on Thursday, Merck has pledged to cease conducting and financially backing biomedical research that uses the primates.

“Merck’s new biomedical research policy will save chimpanzees from unnecessary and painful experiments. Merck’s decision, and that of several other pharmaceutical companies, sends a strong message that private industry is moving away from chimpanzee research as the government has,” Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for the Humane Society, said in a statement.

The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Congress have been pushing for years to end the use of chimps in research and move the primates into sanctuaries. The latest move could mean about 1,000 chimps used for research or kept in labs could be “retired” to sanctuaries by around 2020, Conlee told the Associated Press.

Merck spokeswoman Caroline Lappetito told AP the drug-maker decided late last year to stop research on chimps and move to other types of testing: “The science has advanced, and we don’t really need it,” she said.

Individuals, including children, and some big name animal-activist organizations, such as PETAhave spent years lobbying for an end to using chimps in research, often sharing gruesome stories of neglect and abuse. Merck adds its name to a growing list of companies including GlaxoSmithKline, DuPont and AstraZeneca that have shunned chimp-based research in recent years.

h/t ABC Photo PETA


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