$150M spent on tests that hurt animals, don’t help humans
Science or sadism? The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse and several other federal health agencies have handed out hundreds of millions of tax dollars on numerous studies to test the effects of recreational drug use on animals, torturing and killing countless mice, rabbits and monkeys with no apparent benefit to medical science, according to a new report from a watchdog group and animal rights organization.
Some of the most egregious examples, these critics say, include $9.6 million to inject LSD into the brains of rabbits to determine whether the drug caused an increase in eye blinks and headbobbing; $7.6 million to investigate whether psychedelic drugs cause the heads of mice to twitch; $1.5 million to determine whether meth is toxic to mice brains; $1.1 million to see if meth-addicted monkeys would choose food over the drug; and a $709,981 study to determine if “lonely rats are more likely to become addicted to drugs.
According to a new report coauthored by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and the Animal Justice Project, taxpayers have spent over $150 million funding 95 experiments — some spanning decades — related to the effects of recreational drug use on animals, purportedly to gain insights into how such drugs affect human behavior and health.
But despite the high price tag, the researchers carrying out the experiments were subject to no oversight to produce results, and any results that did come of the questionable experiments appear to be of no value to human health, the critics say. “Mice are not humans, and tests on animals often fail to mimic human diseases or predict how the human body responds to new drugs,” Don Ingber, founding director of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, said in the report.
“The NIH should be researching cancer, Ebola, Alzheimer’s, and instead they are wasting tens of millions of dollars on research that doesn’t need to take place,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. “Once you get past the cruelty to animals, you just have an absolute waste of money. This is just unnecessary spending.”
For spending millions of taxpayers dollars on numerous recreational drug studies that are harmful to animals and likely not helpful to humans, NIH wins this week’s Golden Hammer, a weekly distinction awarded by The Washington Times highlighting the most egregious examples of wasteful federal spending.
“When you look at some of these proposals that NIH funds, you have to wonder if someone has been personally testing the psychotropics rather than just giving them to poor unsuspecting animals,” said Richard Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government.
President Obama’s NIH “should name this the ‘Timothy Leary time machine project,’” Mr. Manning added. “The idea of our federal government testing cocaine, meth and psychedelic drugs on animals should make taxpayers’ heads twitch — it is such an egregious waste.”
NIH and NIDA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The grants are a small part of the overall $30 billion NIH research budget. According to the agency, more than 80 percent of its funding is distributed through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 2,500 universities, medical schools and other research institutions around the country and around the world.
Scientists who conduct recreational drug tests on animals argue that such studies help them determine the health effects of commonly abused drugs and may provide useful insight to improve drug rehabilitation programs for human addicts.
But other researchers argue that results produced in animals are not always applicable to human patients.
Several of the studies highlighted in the report proved to be a total bust and, in some cases, scientists killed test animals that did not behave the way they wanted them to.