The third largest pharmaceutical company in the world has vowed to stop using chimpanzees as test subjects for its products. Merck & Co joins another two dozen drugmakers opting for more humane testing practices.
“The science has advanced, and we don’t really need it,” said Merck spokeswoman Caroline Lappetito.
Improved technology, animal alternatives and growing pressure from animal rights groups, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Congress are behind the company’s switch.
According to Kathleen Conlee of the Humane Society of the United States, that could mean over 1000 chimpanzees currently warehoused in laboratories and used for research could be “retired” to sanctuaries by 2020.
“It’s been a long road in trying to end the use of chimpanzees in research, and we’re now at a turning point,” said Conlee, who’s been advocating for chimps for seven years, to The Associated Press on Thursday. “We’re going to keep on (advocating) until the chimpanzees in laboratories are all in sanctuaries.”
For now, Conlee is trying to convince hired testing companies to cease housing the primates in labs for future work and to pay for their accommodation at one of the five U.S. accredited sanctuaries for retired research chimpanzees.
If they oblige, that would mean a life of freedom among hundreds of other chimps who, like them, were confined in cages for their entire “working” lives. No doubt, a much awaited improvement.
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