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NIH Spends $2.3 Million To Inject Young Beagles With Cocaine

Ongoing animal testing is required due to the FDA's live animal testing requirements for drug approval


According to a new report by the non-profit group White Coat Waste (WCW), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent $2.3 million in taxpayer money for a study in which young beagles were injected with cocaine. 

The government experiments on animals, funded by taxpayer dollars continue. Previously, the NIH subsidized an experiment where beagles were eaten alive by sandflies, a story that drew significant criticism from animal welfare advocates. 

According to the investigation by WCW, The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the NIH, led the experiments. 

In the study, seven beagle puppies were trained to wear specially designed jackets to simplify the injection of cocaine into the animals. The report states, “puppies were dosed with cocaine again and again and again for months, along with an ‘experimental compound,’ to see how the two drugs interacted.” 

Image Courtesy of White Coat Waste Project

The experiment, conducted between September 2020 and September 2021, was filmed so researchers could see if the puppies had any “adverse reactions” to the drugs. Before being injected with the drugs, the puppies had a surgically implanted “telemetry unit” placed to monitor their vital signs.

After the experiment concluded, the animals were either euthanized or recycled for use in other experiments. A paper on ethics of animal testing published by the NIH states that researchers should “Prevent unacceptable study end-points: death as an end-point is often ethically unacceptable and should be fully justified. When death cannot be avoided, the procedures must be designed to result in the deaths of as few animals as possible.” 

The paper from the NIH continues by stating that researchers should “avoid repeated use of animals in experiments: any animals should not be used in more than one experiment, either in the same or different projects, without the express approval of the IACUC.”

The experiments were contracted to SRI International. However, since they didn’t have the correct equipment, they outsourced their experiments to Charles River Laboratories. This is the same group that “maintains” the monkeys of Morgan Island to be used in NIH experiments.

The White Coat Waste Project claims that this experiment was meant to evaluate the cardiovascular effects of cocaine and another unknown substance protected by the NIH as proprietary.

These types of cruel experiments are often required due to the FDA’s live animal testing requirements. The agency still requires such tests to gain approval for commercially available drugs. 

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have sponsored bipartisan legislation to eradicate mandatory testing on animals.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included the word “cruel” to describe experiments contracted by SRI International. This adjective constitutes editorializing and was removed to avoid including any form of opinion into a news story. 

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