WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Humane Society of the United States claims to find thousands of cases of animal suffering and death from toxicity testing of drugs at an animal testing laboratory company headquartered in West Lafayette.
In a statement sent to the Journal & Courier Thursday evening, the company described the research at Inotiv Inc. as “legally required” in the United States for developing life saving medical options.
Inotiv Inc. was reportedly at the center of a seven-month undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. An undercover investigator, according to information sent to the Journal & Courier, worked at the Inotiv Inc. facility in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and was assigned to more than 70 toxicity studies involving about 6,000 animals.
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“On April 21, 2022, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) published a report claiming to have placed an infiltrator within one of Inotiv’s Indiana research facilities,” said Inotiv in a statement attributed to a company spokesperson. “Inotiv leadership has read HSUS’s press release and the corresponding report and is reviewing the claims contained therein.”
Inotiv, according to its website, offers pharma and biotech companies with “decisive analytical services …”
“Our mission at Inotiv,” Thursday’s statement continued, “is to help our clients realize the full potential of their scientific and medical research, which ultimately contributes to significant improvement in the lives of both humans and animals.
“The research we do is legally required in the U.S. for developing lifesaving medicines, medical devices and biologics.”
In its statement to the Journal & Courier, the Humane Society of the United States called on the Food and Drug Administration and pharmaceutical companies “to replace animals with more effective non-animal testing approaches that will better serve humans while sparing animals.”
Beagle puppies, monkeys shown in video
Among the alleged findings, some 80 beagle puppies were used in toxicity testing where the dogs were reportedly forced to ingest a drug via stomach tube every day for months. Those beagles, the Humane Society alleges, will be killed starting in mid-May.
A video claimed by the Humane Society to be part of the undercover investigation, and watched by the J&C, shows workers inserting tubing down dogs’ throats and administering a liquid substance. Dogs can be seen later in the video struggling to walk, shivering in a cage and whimpering along a wall.
Monkeys, as seen in the video, were restrained from the neck down and administered a substance. A pair of monkeys is seen cuddling at the back of a cage.
Advocates call for animals’ release
The animal advocacy nonprofit, along with the Humane Society Legislative Fund, called for the immediate release of the beagles.
“The disturbing findings at this facility cannot be ignored. We are calling for the release of beagles we know are suffering in the lab today and soon to be euthanized, but that is just the start of our work,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States.
“We must tackle the root cause of this suffering. This seems to be one of the only areas in science where failure to innovate and make change is accepted and, at times, encouraged. It is our hope that sharing the plight of these animals will accelerate FDA and pharmaceutical industry changes to replace outdated animal tests with superior modern technologies.”
What did the investigation find?
According to the Humane Society, the undercover investigation occurred from August 2021 to March 2022.
Some of the alleged findings include:
- At least two primates accidentally hanged themselves in restraint chairs.
- Dogs were given doses of substances despite their vomiting, shaking, high fevers and labored breathing.
- Severely sick dogs and primates, some wailing in pain, were not assessed and treated.
“Our federal government needs to invest in good science in the form of effective and humane non-animal test methods to replace these tragic animal tests,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “In many cases non-animal tests are more reliable, faster and more cost effective than the existing animal methods most commonly accepted by our federal government.”
What does Inotiv do?
According to its website, Inotiv “offers a broad scope of expertise for drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) studies at all stages of (research and development), from lead optimization through NDA. Benefit from our long and impeccable regulatory history, world-class team of scientists, and 40+ year track record of providing leading pharma and biotech companies with attentive, decisive analytical services — and high-quality data.”
Addressing its services to potential clients: “Our stage-dependent drug discovery bundles offer you the solutions you need to provide you with the insights to make informed decisions.”
In January 2022, Inotiv Inc., with West Lafayette facilities reportedly worth about $20 million, announced the purchase of Integrated Laboratory Systems for $56 million, increasing the company’s study of toxicology.
“ILS will also provide additional capacity and growth opportunities for Inotiv,” Greg Beattie, Inotiv’s CEO, said in a press release at the time. “This acquisition expands our in vivo and in vitro toxicology services, including the addition of significant pathology and toxicology expertise, and it extends our services into genomics, bioinformatics and computational toxicology. These capabilities broaden our market reach and create significant new cross-selling opportunities.”
Deanna Watson is the executive editor at the Journal & Courier. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @deannawatson66.