Dear Physicians Committee supporter,
I am writing with historic news. On Nov. 16, the director of the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) announced that the agency will end the last vestiges of federally supported chimpanzee experimentation. This decision comes after years of work by the Physicians Committee and others, and it couldn't have happened without your help.
back in May 2010, when we were strategizing on how to save 202 chimpanzees. Those chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico had been unofficially retired from invasive experimentation for nearly a decade. But to save money, the National Institutes of Health was going to start moving them to an active research facility in San Antonio.
In fact, the NIH did move some animals to Texas. Working with other organizations, we stalled the move of the remaining animals to the research facility. We worked
with then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and actor Gene Hackman, a New Mexico resident, to generate massive media coverage. And eventually a small group of U.S. senators heard the message and called on NIH to convene a study.
When a committee was formed at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2011 to examine the scientific necessity of chimpanzee research, we felt that the makeup of the
group was biased. We urged IOM to make a change,
and it did, replacing the chair of the committee and other members.
I was honored to be one of only three non-NIH experts to testify before the committee at its initial public meeting, and I believe our words hit home. Ultimately,
the IOM committee announced that it could find no area of biomedical research for which chimpanzees were necessary.
Following the IOM report, NIH announced in June 2013—after 18 months of deliberations and thousands of public comments submitted by us and our allies—that it would retire more than 300 of its chimpanzees, but would leave 50 as a "reserve" colony for possible future experiments. We, of course, called for all the chimpanzees to be freed.
In June 2015, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that it would finally classify all chimpanzees, including those in laboratories, as endangered. This would make it very difficult to use the animals in invasive experiments. We had submitted comments to the Fish & Wildlife Service to encourage this decision.
Then came this week's announcement by Dr. Collins and NIH that eliminates all federally funded experimentation on chimpanzees and sends them all to retirement. This is a major milestone in our mission to promote ethical and scientifically sound research.
This is a wonderful time for these long-suffering animals, and it paves the way for progress for those who are still left behind in research laboratories. Thank you for
everything you've done to make this victory possible.
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Director of Academic Affairs