Drug firms fund for animal experiments

Related tags Animal testing Animal rights Animal liberation front Uk

In a defiant gesture to animal activists, Britain's pharmaceutical
companies have joined forces to launch a £4m research fund to
finance animal experiments in universities.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca (AZ) and Pfizer have pledged to fund fellowships and laboratory equipment to help universities continue animal experimentation despite increasing hostility from campaigners.

The pharmaceutical giants are concerned they could be hit by a lack of graduating scientists. Working with the British Pharmacological Society, the three drug companies with the largest UK research operations have established a joint fund of £1 million a year for the next four years to support work in UK universities.

The availability of a highly skilled workforce, and in particular scientists and clinicians, is essential if the UK is to remain an attractive location for investment in the biosciences. This new fund will ensure the quality of basic animal research carried out in British universities and ensure they are producing graduates and postgraduates of the highest calibre.

Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science said: "The partnership will provide valuable additional research funding which will help to maintain our current position of cutting edge excellence in this area."

"Developing and fostering new skills in pharmacology, physiology and toxicology is essential for the UK science base."

The gesture comes after a warning by GSK​ chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier who warned that investment and jobs would be driven out of the country by the actions of animal rights extremists.

Companies indirectly involved in animal testing, such as the contractors building the Oxford University's new animal research laboratory, have been terrorised. The construction group Montpellier Group, pulled out of the project after its shareholders received threatening letters.

The government is expected to announce new legal protection for scientists and other workers who have faced intimidation from groups such as Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty​ (Shac). The home secretary, David Blunkett said: "These people are committing crimes and they should be dealt with harshly."

Related topics Preclinical Research Drug Delivery

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