Does research on vaccines and biochemical warfare justify primate suffering?

They are the unsung heroes of the war on terror — or its hidden innocent victims, depending on your point of view.

They have been deliberately infected with deadly bacteria and viruses, including plague, anthrax, Ebola, and smallpox. Some have been dosed with nerve agents. Others have been lethally irradiated. Many died during these experiments, or had to be euthanized after becoming severely ill — some found collapsed in their cages, others suffering from seizures or hemorrhaging into their guts.

They are research primates — mostly rhesus macaques, long-tailed macaques, and African green monkeys — acting as our surrogates in experiments designed to develop and test new drugs and vaccines against biological, chemical, and radiological weapons.

Is the suffering of all these monkeys justified? Some experts consulted by BuzzFeed News argued that the research is necessary if we want to have drugs and vaccines to protect against a devastating terrorist attack. But monkeys are not always the best model for whether a drug or vaccine will work in people. Even when they are, some researchers have deep misgivings about the large numbers of monkeys that have been used in studies that condemn many to severe illness and death.

At the heart of this debate is the “Animal Rule,” a regulation adopted by the FDA in 2002 to provide a mechanism for approving drugs that could protect against biological, chemical, and radiological weapons — where running studies that expose people to the actual threat would clearly be unethical.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: The Silent Monkey Victims Of The War On Terror

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