The Food and Drug Administration has shut down a nicotine experiment after four out of 30 monkeys died from what officials have labeled animal cruelty. The squirrel monkeys will be removed from the Arkansas’ National Center for Toxicological Research to an animal sanctuary.
According to the Washington Post, the study launched in 2014 was aimed to provide a better understanding of nicotine addiction. Using adolescent and adult monkeys, the animals self-administered nicotine by pulling a lever. Once they were addicted, scientists were able to decrease the nicotine and observe the effects.
By 2017, four of the monkeys had died; three of the monkeys dying from anesthesia complications and a fourth monkey dying from an unknown cause of bloat. Three of the primates succumbed to anesthesia complications when catheters were inserted, and the fourth “related to bloat, the cause of which is often unclear.”
The experiment was brought to the public’s attention last March, after a Freedom of Information Act request was filed for the study’s records by the White Coat Waste Project, a group which opposes taxpayer-funded animal experimentation. They obtained 64 pages of documents prompting Jane Goodall to write an open letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. In the letter Goodall called the experiments on the monkeys “shameful, cruel and unnecessary”, describing how the animals were restrained and callously observed after having been subjected to the side-effects of nicotine by vomiting and diarrhea.
Based on the report from Goodall, veterinarians and scientists, in September the study was suspended. Experts visited the laboratory to check on the welfare of the animals and review documents. Officials reported a lack of adequate oversight and “repeated” deficiencies in the welfare and treatment of the monkeys.
On Friday, Gottlieb ended the study and stated the FDA is working to accelerate the adoption of new methods of scientific technology to reduce the needs of animal testing. Anthony Bellotti, White Coat Waste Project’s president will continue to push for more transparency using animals funded by taxpayers in such “wasteful spending.”
Read more about the animal abuse of monkeys in laboratory testing here.
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Continue reading: Veterinarian accused of animal cruelty loses his license