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Animals Win in New York and Missouri; Wisconsin Continues to Lag Behind

pigLast year had already been a banner year for PCRM’s live animal lab campaign. Six medical schools had confirmed the switch from live animal labs to validated nonanimal methods in education. Then, in the last few weeks of 2007, more good news arrived: Both New York Medical College (NYMC) and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis announced they had ended their live animal lab programs.

NYMC was the last school in New York state to use live animals in student education and one of only two using dogs in these exercises. Students will now use echocardiograms and simulators while instructors demonstrate physiology principles.

Washington University—ranked fourth among U.S. medical schools—confirmed in December that it discontinued its use of live pigs in a student cardiovascular lab.

Despite that Johns Hopkins is the only top-20 ranked medical school that continues this practice, 10 U.S. schools continue to claim that live animal labs are a necessary part of medical education. For more than 90 percent of medical schools, innovations in medical simulation technology, availability of alternatives, increased awareness of ethical concerns, and a growing acknowledgement that medical training must be human-focused have all facilitated a shift to non-animal methods.

In February 2007, about 60 dogs were killed in a first-year cardiovascular physiology course at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). Despite efforts by PCRM members, concerned citizens, and a coalition of animal protection organizations led by the Wisconsin Humane Society, MCW is scheduled to hold another round of unnecessary animal labs in February 2008. This year, the school will use pigs instead of dogs.

Also in February, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland is scheduled to kill about 20 pigs in a lab similar to the one at MCW.

PCRM is drawing attention to the upcoming labs in both Portland and Milwaukee with billboards in high-traffic areas of the city. The billboards use a principle taught to all medical students: "First, do no harm."

What You Can Do

Call, e-mail, fax, or write a letter to Dean Mark A. Richardson, M.D., M.Sc.B., M.B.A., at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and politely ask him to end the school’s live animal lab for first-year physiology students slated for February 2008. Send an automatic e-mail>


PCRM Online, January 2008

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