Covance (LabCorp) recently found itself in hot water with PETA over a report of monkey deaths. Apparently, some federal documents reveal that Covance lab managers were not operating in a careful and quality-driven manner. At least two monkeys had to be euthanized for orthopedic injuries caused by improper handling.
Apparently, Covance has a long history of mishandling moneys. In 2016 they were fined as 13 monkeys baked to death. If the article is accurate, in a case a few years ago the macaque monkeys died of hyperthermia in two separate incidents when no staff noticed that thermostats had malfunctioned, causing the rooms to overheat. They were fined under the Animal Welfare Act.
Animal Welfare Act and Clinical Research
U.S. law protects the welfare of many, but not all, animals used in research. The Animal Welfare Act, signed into law in 1966, and updated by several amendments, is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport and by dealers.
It applies to all research involving animals in the U.S., but it does not apply to all animals. It is limited to warm-blooded animals, and it does not cover many of those—most notably excluding mice, rates and birds, which along with fish, make up 95% of the animals used in clinical research.
Other laws, policies and guidelines cover additional species or include more specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard.
The law focuses mainly on setting standards for animal housing and basic pain control. It is enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care Agency. The act aims to assure the oversight of animal research primarily by mandating the establishment, at each research institutions (site), an institutional animal care and use committee, or IACUC—a self-regulating entity that must review all proposed animal research protocols and ensure that the researchers make efforts to treat the animals humanely by employing the 3Rs.
TrialSite News includes a link to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition.
Each and every institution must follow the law. Moreover they must treat warm-blooded animals humanely—this is especially the case for primates. Research institutions will have IACUCs and associated protocols for process and behavior with lab animals. As with any system, the staff must have “vocational certainty” in that they must understand in a holistic and comprehensive way what their job entails; what responsibilities are associated and what is the ethical principles the staff must follow.