Animal protection group files complaint, says negligence at MPI Research resulted in deaths of 135 rabbits and one dog

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Please contact USDA to insist on a huge fine against MPI Research for the negligence which killed a beagle puppy and 135 rabbits.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
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Animal protection group files complaint, says negligence at MPI Research resulted in deaths of 135 rabbits and one dog

By Al Jones,, Tuesday, June 17, 2014

KALAMAZOO, MI – Negligence resulted in the deaths of 135 rabbits and one dog at Mattawan-based MPI Research late last year, a national animal protection organization says.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting that MPI be fined $10,000 for each incident of negligence involving animals used in scientific research last August and October.

SAEN, an animal research watchdog group based in Milford, Ohio, said incidents were reported in correspondence between MPI Research and the National Institutes of Health, and those documents were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act filing.

In an email, Michael A. Budkie, executive director of SAEN, describes the incidents as violations of National Institutes of Health policy on animal care. But, because the NIH does not enforce the Animal Welfare Act and does not necessarily pass such information on to the USDA, the complaint was filed by SAEN, Budkie said.

The incidents, most of which SAEN said were violations of the Animal Welfare Act, included:

  • An incident on Aug. 6, 2012 in which a 12-week-old puppy was diagnosed with a spiral fracture of the tibia, resulting in euthanasia.
  • An incident on Aug. 9, 2012 in which the pelvis of rabbit was fractured, resulting in euthanasia.
  • Multiple incidents from Oct. 7 to Oct. 11 of 2013 relevant to eye injuries to 134 rabbits. The injuries resulted in the euthanasia of the rabbits.

SAEN's complaint with the USDA also alleges there has been improper animal handling and use of unqualified personnel by MPI Research.

In a statement, MPI said the SAEN complaint references events that occurred up to two years ago, and that are now closed cases for which no regulatory action was taken.

"The organization, Stop Animal Exploitation Now recently obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act regarding events associated with the welfare of laboratory animals. SAEN requested information about medical research conducted at over one dozen institutions, including academic facilities, biotech companies, hospitals, and Contract Research Organizations (CROs), including MPI Research."

In its statement, MPI said, "All of the events relevant to MPI Research have been investigated and successfully resolved according to the standards established by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. OLAW is part of the National Institutes of Health. As verified by NIH in a statement issued on March 6, 2014, all the institutions associated with SAEN's FOIA request are in good standing with OLAW and 'the cases are closed.'"

According to the statement, MPI Research said it works proactively and collaboratively with OLAW, and is "committed to the comprehensive application of the procedures detailed in the Public Health Services Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals."

SAEN's complaint calls for a stiff penalty, which could amount to more than $130,000 if levied.

"MPI Research is a repeat offender exhibiting multiple incidents of fatal negligence," Budkie said in a press release. "They deserve the maximum penalty."

In its statement, MPI said, "Optimizing the care and welfare of our animals is an essential core value at MPI Research, and our employees are expected to ensure the highest standards of animal care, as we assist biopharmaceutical companies in developing medicines to treat diseases that afflict millions of people and animals worldwide.

"We are dedicated to conducting animal studies in the most ethical and humane manner possible, and welcome the oversight provided by OLAW and other regulatory bodies as we work together to ensure that best practices are applied in medical research."

MPI is contracted by pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms and others to do safety and efficacy studies on pharmaceuticals and chemicals. In the testing process, its laboratories use monkeys on site, the majority being crab-eating macaques. 

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