In a rare display of compassion by a pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. recently joined two dozen other drug makers in discontinuing its use of chimpanzees for laboratory research. There are currently about 1,000 chimpanzees in the United States owned by drug companies and the federal government for pharmaceutical and product research. Our team of defective drug attorneys applauds Merck for this step in the right direction.
It should be noted, however, that according to a Merck spokesperson, the motivation behind this decision was merely scientific advancement. “We don’t really need it,” the spokespersontold the Associated Press, though private facilities like the MD Anderson Center continue to use chimps for biomedical testing. At present, the United States and Gabon, located in Central Africa, are the only two remaining countries to practice chimpanzee research.
Merck is the world’s third-largest drug maker, and has been involved in some of the biggest pharmaceutical lawsuits and settlements in the United States, including the infamous Vioxx recalls. The 2004 class-action lawsuits involving patients who were harmed by the painkiller Vioxx resulted in about $6 billion in litigation-related costs for the company.
Vioxx is still considered to be the largest drug recall in U.S. history after its true risks of stroke and heart attack were realized. Merck ultimately pleaded guilty to criminal charges concerning the sales and marketing of the drug, among other charges.
Most recently, Merck was forced to recall all lots of its cholesterol drug Liptruzet due to packaging defects. Some of the tablet’s outer packaging are defective, allowing air and moisture to enter and potentially decreasing the effectiveness of the drug. The recalled lots are in 10/10, 10/20, 10/40, and 10/80 mg tablets. Any adverse reactions associated with Liptruzet should be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting system, which can be found here.
The FDA requires all drug makers to test new medications in animals before testing in humans, which is achieved using mice, guinea pigs, rats, and sometimes dogs, rabbits, and chimps. Animal rights groups protest most adamantly about the use of pet and ape species, proving in many cases that the animals are abused.
Big Pharma argues that testing in chimpanzees is necessary because the drugs and vaccines need to be analyzed in a species related to humans. Fortunately, technology has advanced to such a point that this type of initial testing can be done using computerized simulations and in smaller animals such as fish. Currently, research and testing on nonhuman primates is kept to a minimum.
Dangerous drug attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on all pharmaceutical news pertaining to our clients as they surface. If you or a loved one was seriously injured by or died as a result of taking a specific medication, contact our office immediately. We can answer any questions you may have about your legal options and potential case. Our legal consultations are always free, and available to injured patients nationwide.