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January 30, 2014

Top Pharmaceutical Company Stops Chimpanzee Use in Research

Merck & Co, Inc., will stop conducting or financially supporting biomedical research on chimpanzees into the foreseeable future. The availability of alternatives has led to the policy change by one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The Humane Society of the United States welcomes the company’s decision.

The announcement follows years of dialogue between The HSUS and Merck about concerns for the company’s use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments, and follows major recent actions by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Congress to facilitate the retirement of hundreds of government-owned chimps from laboratories to sanctuaries.

Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The HSUS said: “Merck’s new biomedical research policy will save chimpanzees from unnecessary and painful experiments. Merck’s decision, and that of several other pharmaceutical companies, sends a strong message that private industry is moving away from chimpanzee research as the government has.”

With this recent announcement, Merck joins a growing list of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk and Grifols, which have adopted policies against the use of chimpanzees in research.

Timeline:

  • Dec. 2011: Institute of Medicine study finds nearly all chimpanzee use for research is unnecessary.
  • June 11, 2013: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a proposed rule to list captive chimpanzees in the U.S. and wild chimpanzees as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. The proposed rule is expected to sharply curtail harmful use of chimpanzees in research, entertainment and the pet trade.
  • June 26, 2013: The National Institutes of Health announces policy changes to their support of chimpanzee research including the retirement of the vast majority of government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuary, and a significant reduction in chimpanzee research grants. The agency’s announcement was the result of the 2011 Institute of Medicine study.
  • Nov. 27, 2013: President Obama signs S. 252 into law; includes legislation amending the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance and Protection (CHIMP) Act, allowing the National Institutes of Health to spend money on sanctuary care and to begin fulfilling the agency’s pledge to move laboratory chimpanzees to sanctuaries.

Media Contact: Samantha Miller: 301-258-1417; smiller@humanesociety.org

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