Glaxo, Primate Products, and Animal Abuse

Original post found at Pharmalot

In its latest bid to change practices in the pharmaceutical industry, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has written GlaxoSmithKline to complain about the alleged treatment of monkeys at a company from which the drugmaker has purchased animals for use in clinical trials. A few weeks ago, photos from inside Primate Products were leaked to the media, including the NBC affiliate in Miami, where Primate Products has a ‘live animal’ facility and protesters subsequently gathered (see this).

“The primates in the leaked photographs were literally ripped apart. They suffered from large, open head and neck wounds that had been crudely sutured together. They were also missing large patches of hair and had gaping bloody holes in their scalps and limbs. These serious injuries may have resulted from self-mutilation, experimental procedures, or fights between animals who had been improperly housed. PPI has confirmed that the photographs are authentic,” PETA wrote to Glaxo ceo Andrew Witty in an email last week (here are the photos).

Primate Products ceo Don Bradford recently told NBC that the conditions depicted in the photos were not caused by medical testing, but due to injuries caused by other animals, and the monkeys have since healed. But the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida does not seem to believe him (look here) and NBC says the US Department of Agriculture will visit the facility. For its part, Primate Product has not responded to messages.

A Glaxo spokeswoman says the drugmaker has not purchased animals from Primate Products since 2006. However, Justin Goodman, who is PETA’s associate director for laboratory investigations, says this document (see page 2) indicates Glaxo sent 45 monkeys to Primate Products this past summer. “So while they may not have ‘purchased’ animals from PPI since 2006, they have certainly used them in experiments since then and did still have some kind of relationship with them as of last month,” he writes us.

He adds that this study published this month in the British Journal of Pharmacology is one of three involving Glaxo research that notes animals were purchased from Primate Products. It states that “renal and superior mesenteric arteries were isolated from male cynomolgus monkeys (4–7 kg; Primate Products, Miami, FL; Covance, Alice TX; Charles River, Andover MA; Mannheimer, Homestead, FL). The other two studies were published here and here, he maintains.

Meanwhile, Goodman says PETA has also written Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Experimur, a testing and research lab, because animal-rights group believes both companies have also purchased animals from Primate Products. An Alnylam spokeswoman says a response is forthcoming, and we await word from Experimur. UPDATE: An Alnylam spokeswoman writes to say that the drugmaker “conducts its research in adherence to all appropriate regulatory guidelines. The company is looking into this matter further.”

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