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Squirrel monkeys will no longer be subject to FDA tests on nicotine. (Image: Public Domain)

FDA terminates nicotine study that killed four monkeys and spurred public outcry

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By Adrian Mojica

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sinclair Broadcast Group) β€”The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is terminating a nicotine study involving squirrel monkeys following the deaths of four monkeys and public outcry.

The testing captured national attention after Dr. Jane Goodall issued a letter and public statements directed towards the FDA calling the tests "taxpayer-funded torture."

The study involved 12 adolescent and 12 adult monkeys in which the monkeys were injected with doses of nicotine. The researchers then drew blood and urine samples from the monkeys in an effort to test how nicotine is metabolized in adults and adolescents. The study also sought to record how long it took for addiction to develop in the animals.

Documents previously released by the FDA state monkeys which did not "acquire nicotine self-administration" would have nicotine substituted by cocaine since it is "the most commonly used compound for positive control comparisons."

Dr. Goodall joined the effort to stop the testing after a lawsuit against the FDA was filed by the White Coat Waste Project, a non-profit coalition dedicated to wasteful spending on animal experiments.

In her letter to the FDA, Goodall stated "Not only is it extremely cruel to restrain the monkeys, but the ill-effects of the nicotine, apparently recorded on video and documented, are said to include vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors.

I was especially horrified to read that during the course of these experiments, each monkey is locked alone in a cage for nearly three years. For such social and intelligent animals this, together with the horrific experiments themselves, is tantamount to taxpayer-funded torture."

The testing was suspended in September 2017 but on Friday, the FDA announced they would terminate the study. A statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb states the monkeys which survived will be moved to a permanent sanctuary home.

Gottlieb added following investigation of the issue, the findings indicate the agency's animal program "may need to be strengthened in some important areas."

As a result, Gottlieb says an independent, third-party investigation into the FDA's animal research program has been initiated. The FDA has also established an Animal Welfare Council for oversight looks to "reaffirm and strengthen our commitment to replacing, reducing, and/or refining animal studies."

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