Home Page
About SAEN
Articles and Reports
Contact Us
Events and Campaigns
Fact Sheets
Financial Information
How You Can Help
Make a Donation, Please!
Media Coverage
Picture Archive
Press Releases
Resources and Links
Grass Roots Org. List


Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

Boehringer fined $20,060 for animal cruelty

Pharmaceutical company acknowledges 'unacceptable' treatment of lab monkeys

Article Last Updated: 11/15/2007 09:30:04 AM EST

RIDGEFIELD -- Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. acknowledged Wednesday that animal handling practices in its laboratory were "unacceptable" in several incidents that brought a $20,060 fine from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year.

The incidents occurred in 2004 and included the death of a rhesus monkey that was mistakenly steam-washed and severe burns to the pads of another monkey that led to the amputation of several of the animal's digits.

Boehringer issued a statement Wednesday attributed to the company as a whole.

"In 2004, a USDA Inspection Report helped highlight areas where our animal handling practices were simply inadequate and the effects on animals were absolutely unacceptable," the statement reads. "We have done a great deal over the past several years to remedy the situation, including implementing a series of guidelines and safeguards, adding numerous improvements and upgrades to our facility, and increased staffing in an effort to prevent these incidents from occurring in the future."

"We feel confident that these measures will ensure that the issues raised in the 2004 report will not be repeated," the statement added.

When dealing with issues of animal injuries that involve animal rights organizations, the company does not name specific individuals in any way related to the incident, a spokesman said.

Documents received this month from the USDA after a Freedom of Information request from The News-Times in November 2006 also reveal that a dog in the Boehringer laboratory exhibited "unrelieved distress" following experiments on it in excess of USDA allowances.

"The combination of recurrent episodes of elevated body temperature with inappetance (a condition caused by an animal not getting enough nutrition) in Dog No. 1654 would be considered to be distressful to the animal," the May 4, 2005, report reads. The problem was corrected by July 1, 2005, the report added.

On April 5, 2004, a beagle was found dead in its

cage, the USDA report also said. "The front half of the dog's body had passed through the vertical bars of the enclosure door and the animal was wedged between the bars," the report reads. "Modification to caging was made within one day after the dog was found dead."

The report goes on to cite a rhesus monkey found dead June 1, 2004, after its cage had been steam-washed at the laboratory. Three employees moving monkeys from cages to be cleaned and then running the cages through the steam cleaner did not seen the small monkey in the cage, Boehringer's inspection into the incident revealed.

On Sept. 14, 2004, a cynomolgus monkey was used in an experiment. Two days later it was noticed that skin had sloughed off its hand pads, and several digits had to be amputated.

It was determined that "thermal injury because of inappropriate use of supplemental heat sources during recovery from anesthesia" caused the injury, the USDA report reads.

"The animal was later identified as having an abnormal physical condition, but personnel failed to promptly notify the attending veterinarian," the USDA report said.

Boehringer's report on the incident said the employees involved were sanctioned, and action was taken from the time of the report to ensure similar incidents did not happen in the future.

On Oct. 30, 2004, a rhesus monkey was found dead in its cage following a toxicology study preparation five days earlier. It was determined the animal died from "self-inflicted trauma" resulting from the way it was handled, the Boehringer and USDA reports read.

Numerous minor violations in the storage of animal food and distress in primates were cited in the USDA report.

USDA spokesman Karen Eggert said Wednesday that a fine of $20,060 reflects "a number of violations. We fine up to $2,500 per violation."

USDA and Boehringer records reflect that the pharmaceutical company contacted the USDA itself when "noncompliance" with the Animal Welfare Act was found at the company.

"We have a lot of facilities that self-report when finding an employee was noncompliant, and that is the right thing to do," Eggert said. "We work with companies to ensure that they're comfortable reporting to us."

Eggert said the USDA responds to "a few hundred" animal abuse reports yearly. Not all of the reports end up being actual violations, but "we take all complaints of noncompliance seriously and ensure no harm or danger to animals is involved," she said.

Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now), based in Cincinnati, reported the violations and the fine brought against Boehringer to the press.

"It's very important for the public to know about situations like this," he said Wednesday. "You have to wonder if they can't follow basic animal safety measures and you see them engaging in sloppy science ... what that means for the effect their practices could have on people who use their products."

Budkie also noted "when a primate is killed in a cage because employees can't check to make sure of the presence of the animal before putting the cage into the washing system, that's just plain carelessness."

He thinks the $20,060 fine Boehringer paid was inadequate, while noting that it is high for a USDA fine in such instances.

"If you had a speeding ticket and the fine was $3, would you care?" he asked, noting that with Boehringer's financial standing that is what the $20,060 fine amounted to.

Boehringer's statement Wednesday, along with acknowledging the "unacceptable" effects on animals, said "as required under current drug development laws and regulations, animal studies must be carried out as part of the drug development process."

"At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are committed to advancing the health of patients in the United States and around the world through innovation and scientific discovery," the statement added.

"The company takes all issues pertaining to animal research very seriously, and we are committed to the highest standards for the humane care and treatment of animals used throughout our laboratories."

See: USDA Instection Report - 21 Oct 2005 - PDF

Return to Media Coverage

We welcome your comments and questions

Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

This site is hosted and maintained by:
The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting all-creatures.org.
Since date.gif (991 bytes)