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December 22, 2011

Shareholder Proposal Urges Idenix Pharmaceuticals to End the Use of Chimpanzees in Invasive Experiments

The Humane Society of the United States submitted a shareholder resolution asking Idenix Pharmaceuticals to publicly commit to phasing out its use of chimpanzees in invasive research by Dec. 15, 2012.
 
Idenix Pharmaceuticals has used chimpanzees warehoused at the Southwest National Primate Research Center to test an antiviral treatment for hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV. However, a recent report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council concluded that chimpanzees are not necessary for the testing of HCV antiviral treatments and that there are ample alternatives.
 
In fact, two successful, new HCV treatments recently approved by the FDA did not involve the use of chimpanzees for development or testing. These are Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ Incivek and Merck’s Victrelis. Additionally, GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company that is developing therapies for hepatitis, voluntarily ended its use of chimpanzees in research three years ago.
 
“The numbers of chimpanzees in laboratories has declined drastically over the last decade due to high financial and ethical costs, public opposition and the increasing availability of more effective and faster alternative testing methods,” said Kathleen Conlee, senior director of animal research issues for The HSUS. “The Institute of Medicine report indicates that this trend is likely to continue, so it is time for Idenix to catch up to its competitors and move away from this practice.”
 
A copy of The HSUS's shareholder resolution is available upon request.
 
Facts:

• Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. develops drugs to treat human viral and other infectious diseases and currently focuses on HCV treatments. It is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.

• The HSUS attempted to communicate with Idenix about its use of chimpanzees prior to filing the resolution—once in 2010 and once in October 2011, but received no response.

• Approximately 1,000 chimpanzees remain in six laboratories in the United States — the only remaining country that continues the large-scale use of these animals for invasive research and testing.

• On Dec. 15, 2011, The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council released the report called “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity.” The report concluded that chimpanzees are “largely unnecessary” for current biomedical and behavioral research and could not identify any area of invasive research that requires chimpanzee use.

• The Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (H.R. 1513/S. 810), 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.

• The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the status of captive chimpanzees in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act to determine whether protection of all chimpanzees is warranted, which could result in increased protection for chimpanzees used in research and the pet and entertainment trade.

 
Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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