Bristol-Myers In Hot Water Over Boiled Monkey?

Bristol-Myers In Hot Water Over Boiled Monkey?

January 19th, 2012 // 1:39 pm @

First, the monkey was in hot water. Now, the same may be said for Bristol-Myers Squibb. The drugmaker accidentally killed a crab-eating macaque last summer when its cage was being sanitized, but the primate remained locked inside, according to an inspection report by the US Department of Agriculture.

The monkey died at a Bristol-Myers lab in Pennington, New Jersey, when a dirty cage was moved to a washroom and submerged in near-boiling water. Only later did an employee discover the mistake, according to the USDA report (read here).
The news of the death surfaced after a whistleblower contacted the USDA, animal-rights activists say.

“If these allegations are true, the USDA should levy stiff penalties and Bristol-Myers should not receive another dime of taxpayer grant money,” Kathy Guillermo of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says in a statement. The advocacy group wants more than $3 million in taxpayer money the drugmaker received last year to be revoked if federal guidelines have been violated.

Adds Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a watchdog organization: “Horrible acts of negligence like this, which literally boiled a monkey alive, must be severely penalized. If a private individual killed an animal with this much cruelty, they would go to jail” (read the statement).

For its part, the drugmaker maintains the incident was voluntarily reported to the FDA. “It was an unfortunate event,” a Bristol-Myers spokeswoman tells The Star-Ledger of New Jersey. “We reported this to the USDA and immediately began an internal investigation… Our company takes great care that the strict policies and procedures regarding the safe handling of our animals, which are designed to prevent these types of incidents from occurring, take place at all of our facilities. When those policies and procedures are not followed, disciplinary action is taken.”

As it turns out, this is not the first time a lab animal has died this way in recent months. Last July, a rabbit that was housed in a facility run by Covance, the clinical research organization, met a similar fate – it was also boiled alive in a washing cage, according to a USDA report. In response to these incidents, both SAEN and PETA have filed formal complaints with the USDA.

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