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November 16, 2010

Shareholder Resolution Urges Abbott Laboratories to Phase Out Use of Chimpanzees in Research

The Humane Society of the United States filed a shareholder resolution last week with Abbott Laboratories asking the company to produce a schedule for phasing out the use of chimpanzees in research and to publish the schedule online by Dec. 15, 2011. Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc. co-filed this resolution.

“Fiscally and socially responsible investors are becoming increasingly concerned with the use of chimpanzees for harmful research, and companies are beginning to take notice,” said Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for Animal Research Issues at The HSUS. “It is time for Abbott to join companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Novo Nordisk by taking steps to end chimpanzee research and embracing alternatives in the interest of human health and animal welfare.”

Abbott Laboratories recently used chimpanzees housed at the Southwest National Primate Research Center in a published hepatitis C virus study. However, a recent review of the use of chimpanzees for hepatitis C research published in the Journal of Medical Primatology showed that chimpanzees, unlike humans, often clear hepatitis C infection on their own and don’t develop chronic active hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. Furthermore, there are ample alternatives for effective testing of hepatitis C treatments and vaccines, including cellular studies of human immune responses to hepatitis C infection.

An undercover investigation by The HSUS at the New Iberia Research Center revealed chimpanzees living in social isolation for long periods of time, as well as painful and frightening procedures as part of experiments conducted for private companies.

There is a worldwide decline in chimpanzee research. The European Union enacted a ban against the use of great apes in research in 2010, joining countries such as Japan, Australia and New Zealand that have already enacted prohibitions or severe restrictions on chimpanzee research. The United States is considering similar restrictions.

Facts:

  • Abbott Laboratories is a global company that manufactures pharmaceutical and nutritional products and medical devices. It is headquartered in Abbott Park, Ill.
  • Abbott used chimpanzees in an HCV inhibitor efficacy study that was published in 2007 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
  • Since early 2008, The HSUS has made repeated attempts at dialogue with Abbott regarding the company’s use of chimpanzees.
  • GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company that is developing therapies for hepatitis, voluntarily decided to end the use of chimpanzees in their research at the end of 2008.
  • A 2008 HSUS survey of biomedical and pharmaceutical companies revealed that many do not use chimpanzees. So far, 15 companies have pledged not to use these animals in invasive research.
  • About 1,000 chimpanzees remain in laboratories in the United States — the only remaining country that continues the large-scale use of these animals for invasive research and testing.
  • The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 1326 / S. 3694), legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate and House, would phase out invasive research on great apes and retire approximately 500 federally-owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories to permanent sanctuary.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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