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PCRM Steps up Campaign to EndLive Animal Laboratories In Medical Education

Pig Lab AdLast year, just months after PCRM launched its campaign urging the University of Miami School of Medicine to eliminate its live animal laboratory for basic physiology, the school announced it had done just that—future students would learn though teaching methods that involve no animals. In the wake of this victory, animal experimenters fought back and scheduled an animal laboratory, not with dogs but with pigs. Apparently, the experimenters are hoping to be able to use and kill animals who arouse less public sympathy. In response, PCRM has stepped up its campaign to eliminate live animal laboratories, both in Florida and nationwide.

Every spring thousands of dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, and other animals are strapped to tables and injected with various drugs to demonstrate basic concepts to medical students. Ultimately, the animals are killed. Concerned medical students, determined to become good doctors without taking the lives of animals, have contacted PCRM for help. Many have described traumatic experiences when animals have awakened from anesthesia during the laboratories, moaning in pain from invasive procedures.

Rabbit Lab AdEven though more than half of all U.S. medical schools, including top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford, have eliminated these archaic laboratories from their curricula, many schools continue them despite student objection. Schools generally provide a nonanimal alternative for students who request them, but at some institutions students face pressure from the instructors or administration to participate in animal laboratories.

This year PCRM’s campaign to replace animal laboratories with nonanimal teaching methods began in the fall semester, well before the schools had ordered the animals to be used in the spring semester laboratories. Advertisements were placed in the school or local newspapers at the University of California at San Diego, Medical College of Virginia, Boston University, University of Colorado, Medical College of Wisconsin, and St. Louis University. The ads urged students to “Save Your First Patient. Choose an Alternative to the Animal Lab.”

They also detailed the outstanding alternative Harvard devised when some of its students contacted PCRM, objecting to Harvard’s use of animals. Now Harvard medical students can go directly into the human operating room to observe actual heart bypass surgery, saving many animals’ lives and thousands of dollars every year.

PCRM’s campaign generated excellent media coverage. Students and PCRM doctors were interviewed in several cities, PCRM members posted ads on campuses, and PCRM commentaries were printed in school papers and major daily newspapers.

Dog Lab AdOur new campaign brochure was distributed to all first- and second-year medical students on campuses that still have live animal laboratories. Department heads of these schools were contacted and given information about the Harvard program and SimBioSys, an interactive physiology and pharmacology computer program used by Duke University and other medical schools.

While some schools still push students into participating in the labs, students are realizing their rights and the importance of compassion in medical practice. They are becoming increasingly vocal about their refusal to take part in these archaic animal-killing exercises.

You can help PCRM end these labs by distributing literature on campus and writing letters to the schools. To obtain more information, addresses of medical school departments with animal laboratories, or distribution material, please contact PCRM’s Research Department by calling 202-686-2210, ext. 312, or e-mailing


Winter 1999

Winter 1999
Volume VIII
Number 1

Good Medicine

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