The National Institutes of Health canceled a nearly $2 million taxpayer-funded trial that would have force-fed puppies experimental drugs, after a Washington Free Beacon report.
NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is helmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, was slated to spend $1,836,453 in taxpayer dollars to test an experimental hay fever drug on mice, rats, and dogs, including puppies, according to funding documents obtained by the White Coat Waste Project, a government watchdog group, and provided to the Free Beacon in May. The most severe symptoms of hay fever, also known as seasonal allergies, are a runny nose and sneezing.
Following the Free Beacon report, Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) launched an investigation into NIAID’s project, describing the puppy tests as "invasive, painful, and potentially deadly procedures." Fauci informed Ernst late last month that the puppy trials are now canceled, according to a copy of the June 22 letter sent to Ernst and obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.
Ernst said the cancellation is a win for the taxpayers and should serve as a wake-up call to the NIH that Congress will not sit by while it abuses animals in the name of science. NIH’s animal tests have stoked anger from lawmakers and put the U.S. health agency under a microscope, particularly as questions linger about Fauci and the NIH’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. NIH’s funding for labs in Russia and China also have generated concerns about the agency’s priorities and led Congress to ban the practice last week.
A company called the Inimmune Corporation was tapped by NIAID to perform at least five separate experiments on dogs that were to include force-feeding them experimental drugs for several months. This included a proposal to purchase "six-month old puppies" to be used in the tests.
"Although the contract to Inimmune Corporation proposed the use of murine and canine preclinical animal models, after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company elected to proceed using two rodent models only," Fauci wrote to Ernst. "No experiments utilizing the canine model are being conducted under this contract."
Fauci attempted to justify the trials, saying that 60 million people in the United States have seasonal allergies "and many patients do not achieve adequate relief with available medications, resulting in substantial social and economic burdens."
Ernst, in comments to the Free Beacon, said "Fauci was barking up the wrong tree when he decided to use government dollars on dog testing."
"These inhumane practices have no place in our government—much less on the taxpayer’s dime," Ernst said. "Thankfully, after voicing our concerns and shining a light on these heinous tactics, taxpayers can rest easy knowing their hard-earned money is not going toward dog abuse."
Fauci also defended NIAID’s decision to use animals such as puppies as test subjects.
"I want to assure you that NIH and NIAID take the welfare of animals in research very seriously," Fauci wrote, noting that such experiments are governed by strict ethical guidelines. "NIH has established guidance, procedures, and protocols to ensure that … scientists maintain the highest possible standards for the humane care and use of animals in research."
Fauci also noted in the letter that, unlike other NIAID-funded experiments, the seasonal allergy trials were not slated to allocate funding to any labs in China. This practice has become increasingly controversial in the wake of China’s efforts to lie and cover-up its role in starting the coronavirus pandemic.
Devin Murphy, public policy and communications manager for the White Coat Waste Project—which first unearthed these experiments and others involving lethal tests on beagle puppies—said NIH and NIAID are on notice.
"This is a decisive victory in the War on Waste, and sends a message to big-spending white coats across the federal government: taxpayers should not be forced to pay for wasteful, unnecessary, and cruel animal experiments," Murphy told the Free Beacon. "Taxpayers and animal lovers in Iowa and across the nation are grateful for Sen. Ernst’s outstanding commitment to government transparency and the responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars."