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NEWS RELEASE April 25, 2002

Doctors Target March of Dimes Events in 125 U.S. Cities

WalkAmerica Participants Urged to Walk Away from Animal Experiments

WASHINGTON—Supporters of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in 125 U.S. cities have stepped forward to help with an educational campaign targeting the March of Dimes fundraiser, WalkAmerica. In each city, local advocates will distribute information on questionable animal experiments funded by the March of Dimes. PCRM holds that resources should be directed to programs that assist at-risk mothers and focus on human-based ethical research.

"Many birth defects, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, are preventable and funds are needed for outreach and education for at-risk mothers. In recognition of this, major corporate sponsors of the March of Dimes including K-Mart, Publix, and SaraLee have recently announced that their donations will be restricted to programs that help people, rather than animal experiments," says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. "Not only do animal experiments fail to advance our knowledge, but babies can actually be harmed. Tragedy occurred when the antibiotic streptomycin was deemed safe when tested on dogs and other animals—but, when given to human babies, the result was deafness, brain damage, and, in some cases, death."

PCRM volunteers will be drawing particular attention to a March of Dimes-funded experiment currently underway involving rhesus monkeys who are tethered and kept in cages too small to meet federal requirements. Although the link between bacterial infections in women and pre-term birth is already well established, experimenters induce infections in pregnant monkeys then kill and dissect their babies.

The doctors hope that WalkAmerica participants who learn about donations wasted on pointless experiments will instead decide to support cruelty-free charities, such as Easter Seals or Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc. A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans favor supporting charities that do not fund animal experiments.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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