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PCRM Pushes for Cuts in Animal Testing at Pharmaceutical Firm

Shareholders of a global pharmaceutical company recently voted on a PCRM proposal that could reduce animal testing.

PCRM scientific adviser Nancy Beck, Ph.D., presented the proposal at a shareholder meeting of Chicago-based Baxter International, one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical and medical supply companies. The proposed resolution would require the company to disclose its animal use, including species and numbers of animals and the nature and purpose of each use. It would also require a written plan for replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal use.

In her presentation, Dr. Beck explained that the proposed animal-use report would be analogous to a report Baxter previously produced on environmental impact, detailing short- and long-term goals for reducing water usage, energy usage, and greenhouse gas emissions. Baxter published these data, allowing the public to chart the company’s progress.

“We want Baxter to be as transparent about animal use as it is about water and energy use,” says Dr. Beck. “Detailed reporting on animal use would help the company track trends and could reveal areas to reduce animal testing.”

The resolution did not pass in the first round of votes but did receive enough votes to be presented at Baxter’s next shareholder meeting. PCRM hopes to gain more support among shareholders to eventually secure passage and to follow a similar path with other pharmaceutical manufacturers. Baxter officials expressed interest in learning more about nonanimal testing methods and in working with PCRM.

Animal testing raises serious ethical concerns, and the poor validity of these tests is increasingly raising red flags among researchers. Nine out of 10 drugs that appear to be safe and effective in animals fail in human trials, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. More than half of all approved drugs are later relabeled or withdrawn after causing serious harm to humans.

Nancy Beck, Ph.D.
Nancy Beck, Ph.D.

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