PETA demands explanation on Lilly's animal outsourcing shift

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmaceutical industry People for the ethical treatment of animals Eli lilly

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, has been asked to justify its
decision to outsource its animal testing to countries with no or
poor animal welfare standards, which go against Lilly's commitment
to reducing, refining, and replacing its use of animals.

The call by animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is another potential embarrassment for Lilly, who are still reeling from an investigation exposing the conduct of a contract research organisation (CRO) the drug maker regularly used.

The group is concerned that Lilly may be trying to avoid US animal welfare laws by selecting countries with less stringent rules as well as a more relaxed attitude to animal testing.

A recent article in Forbes magazine discussed Lilly's outsourcing to China, where, "scientists are cheap, lab animals plentiful, and pesky protesters held at bay."

The article also cited a pharmaceutical industry executive who "admits that Chinese testing companies lack quality control and high standards on treatment."

Relocating research to a region with non-existent or weak animal welfare standards is in direct conflict with Lilly's stated commitment to reducing, refining, and replacing its use of animals.

Eli Lilly's Animal Care and Use Policy states that: "We are dedicated to the discovery and development of highest quality products that improve the health and well-being of people and animals around the world.

"We are committed to the careful and thorough evaluation of our products using the best scientific technologies available.

Meeting this commitment requires the use of animals.

We recognise that, in doing so, we have an ethical and scientific obligation to ensure the appropriate treatment of animals used in research, to minimise the number of animals involved, and to pursue the development of alternative test systems."

Following an undercover investigation of Covance—a contract laboratory used by Lilly, this commitment seems to ring hollow as the investigation revealed that workers were seen striking and choking monkeys who did not receive any medical attention for severe injuries.

In response, PETA submitted a resolution calling on Lilly to hold its contract laboratories to the standards outlined in the company's animal welfare policy.

The measure received enough votes for PETA to resubmit the same resolution again this year.

"If Lilly was oblivious to the rampant abuse going on at a laboratory that it uses here in the US, how will the company guarantee that animals aren't being cruelly treated at laboratories in China?" commented PETA Senior Vice President Mary Beth Sweetland.

"Shareholders deserve an explanation for this move and a guarantee that research will be held to US standards, at the very least."

Eli Lilly has recently announced plans to set up research units in China as it looks towards taking a slice of the booming outsourcing industry in the East.

Currently, the global market for animal testing, which was worth $3bn last year, could double by 2008.

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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