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House Labor HHS Issue Report Language onRetirement of Primates in Intramural NIH Research

House Labor HHS Issue Report Language on
Retirement of Primates in Intramural NIH Research

On April 30, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) Subcommittee advanced by voice vote a draft text of its fiscal 2020 spending bill. Today, the full House Appropriations Committee released a report on the fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill. The report includes troubling language regarding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) intramural nonhuman primate (NHP) research. The language reads as follows:

“Intramural Non-Human Primate Research.—The Committee has expressed concern since 2015 about the NIH’s intramural use of nonhuman primates in biomedical research. The Committee is especially concerned by a nearly 50 percent increase in NIH’s use of nonhuman primates in research involving pain and distress since fiscal year 2014. The Committee is encouraged, however, by the NIH’s January 2019   to Congress expressing support for the retirement of primates no longer needed for research. The Committee urges the NIH to accelerate efforts to reduce and replace the use of nonhuman primates with alternative research models and directs the NIH to provide a report to the Committee no later than 180 days after enactment that includes: (1) an overview of current NIH nonhuman primate use, including a table with summaries of all active projects, USDA pain categories, and their cost; (2) a detailed explanation of current NIH efforts to reduce and replace the use of primates in research with alternative methods; (3) an assessment of existing research technology not already in use by NIH to reduce and replace primate research and the feasibility of employing it to meet current and future research needs; (4) an assessment of areas where alternatives to primate research may not yet be available; (5) a detailed strategy and timeline for the reduction and replacement of NIH primate research with alternative research methods; and (6) standard operating procedures for the retirement of nonhuman primates no longer needed in research to suitable sanctuaries.”

It is important to note that report language does not have the same force as legislation, though many agencies often treat it as such. This development is troubling coming on the back of last year’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) supported Primate Protection and Research Modernization Act(S.3773), sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Nonhuman primates are critical to much of the work being done under the 21stCentury Cures Act, the Cancer Moonshot, and the Brain Initiative; among others. Furthermore, with many of the documented issues associated with the relocation of research chimpanzees, including several deaths, it would seem that discounting retirement-in-place is a mistake.

The full committee is scheduled for a markup of the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill tomorrow, May 8 at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). The markup can be viewed here: https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups/fy2020-labor-health-and-human-services-education-and-related-agencies.

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