News Feature | January 31, 2014

Merck To End Testing On Chimps

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By Marcus Johnson

Under pressure from animal rights groups and with the new cost effectiveness of improved technology, some companies in the pharmaceutical industry are giving up practice of testing drugs on animals, namely chimpanzees. Merck & Co., along with nearly 25 other companies, have announced that they are no longer going to test chimps. Merck released a statement online that described their new position on the controversial issue: “…voluntarily made the decision not to use chimpanzees in biomedical research in the foreseeable future or to directly or indirectly fund their use in studies by external research partners.”

Still, it seems that the pharmaceutical industry, Merck in particular, will continue testing on other animals in research projects. “The company's mission is to discover, develop, manufacture and market innovative medicines and vaccines that treat and prevent illness. Animal research is indispensable to this mission,” said the company. Such projects will likely include animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, and even dogs.

The Humane Society of the United States praised the move and called it a “step in the right direction.” The group began a campaign seven years ago to end the use of chimps in research and drug development projects.

As the power of computer technology increases, companies may turn to computer simulations and advanced models that can accurately predict the effect of drugs on the human body.