The National Institutes of Health is facing a congressional investigation for conducting a slate of "invasive, painful, and potentially deadly procedures" on puppies as young as six months old—all at taxpayers' expense.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) is requesting the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is helmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, disclose information about a $1.8 million taxpayer-funded trial that will force feed puppies experimental hay fever drugs, according to a copy of the probe obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.
The investigation was prompted by a Free Beacon report last month detailing how the NIH allocated $1,836,453 for a contractor to test an experimental hay fever drug on mice, rats, and dogs, including puppies as young as six months old. The most severe symptoms of hay fever, also known as seasonal allergies, are a runny nose and sneezing.
Ernst seeks to discern why the NIH chose to experiment on dogs and puppies when alternative methods, such as guinea pigs as test subjects, were available. The Food and Drug Administration, which oversees medicines like those used to treat allergies, "does not mandate that human drugs be studied in dogs"—making the experiments all the more questionable, according to Ernst.
NIH’s animal tests have become increasingly controversial in Congress and put the U.S. health agency under a microscope, particularly as questions linger about Fauci and 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. Ernst’s investigation comes amid a push by lawmakers to ban Fauci’s NIAID from conducting animal tests with taxpayer funds.
"At least five different NIAID-funded tests on dogs, including puppies as young as six months old, are planned for this drug and will involve invasive, painful, and potentially deadly procedures," Ernst wrote to Fauci on Thursday. "This taxpayer-funded dog testing commissioned by NIAID appears to be unnecessary. … NIAID’s contractor proposed an alternative, non-dog animal model to replace dogs for at least some testing."
While documents obtained by the White Coat Waste Project through a Freedom of Information Act request outline portions of these experiments, a portion of information was redacted from public view. Ernst is demanding NIAID come clean about the full extent of its experiments and the true cost to taxpayers.
This would include internal information of the "pain category" associated with the dog tests and what percentage of the funding comes from the federal government. NIAID must also furnish information on the number of dogs slated to be used and whether "any funding for these tests [will] be provided to labs in China," which often work closely with NIH on various projects.
In light of the FDA’s ruling that dog testing is not required for human drugs, Ernst wants to know if "NIAID consult[ed] with the FDA to specifically discuss whether dog testing was required" or if it proposed "the use of any alternatives to dog or other animal testing."
NIAID has a history of conducting animal experiments that lawmakers and experts describe as barbaric. NIAID paid for dogs to have their vocal cords cut out so they could not bark during drug tests. In other experiments, dogs were infested with ticks and injected with cocaine. NIH also funded a lab in Russia that ran "horrific and barbaric experiments on 18 cats."
Justin Goodman, senior vice president for advocacy and public policy at the White Coat Waste Project, praised Ernst for working to hold Fauci accountable for these tests "and demanding answers about his troubling plans to waste even more taxpayer dollars to abuse puppies in five cruel and unnecessary tests to evaluate a new drug to treat a runny nose."