The National Institutes of Health is facing a bipartisan congressional probe for spending $2.5 million in taxpayer funds on a study that injected beagle puppies with cocaine, according to a copy of the investigation obtained exclusively by the Washington Free Beacon.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an NIH offshoot, was recently found to have conducted a study in which it "spent roughly $2.5 million of taxpayers' money on cruel tests on six-month-old beagle puppies," according to the investigation by 15 House lawmakers, led by Reps. Nancy Mace (R., S.C.) and Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.). "These tests entailed force-feeding puppies an experimental drug and injecting them with cocaine to study the interaction between the two compounds."
The study, first disclosed by the nonpartisan watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, ignited a media firestorm and put the NIH's agenda in the congressional crosshairs at a time when the agency was already facing criticism over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and partnerships with Chinese scientific institutions. Lawmakers want information on the cost of the study and similar studies, as well as details about what other tests are being performed on dogs. The investigation is likely to further erode public confidence in the NIH, which has been the subject of congressional investigations into their handling of the COVID pandemic.
The NIDA study was conducted from March 2020 until September 2021, when White Coat Waste disclosed the project this month following a Freedom of Information Act request. "At the end of the experiment, the 'coke hounds' were either killed or 'recycled'—meaning they were shipped off to be used in other wasteful, cruel, and unnecessary experiments," according to White Coat Waste's findings.
Documents related to the study indicate NIDA was working to generate a report to send to the Food and Drug Administration. After news of the study broke, however, the FDA said it "does not mandate that human drugs be studied in dogs"—casting doubt on the need for such an experiment.
"We are concerned that NIDA is spending tax dollars on dog testing that is cruel, costly, outdated, and that the FDA has claimed is unnecessary," the lawmakers write. They want to know if NIDA attempted to explore non-animal alternatives before deciding to experiment on beagle puppies.
Justin Goodman, senior vice president of advocacy of public policy at White Coat Waste, said the congressional investigation is vital to generating public accountability for the NIH's actions.
"Animal lovers and liberty lovers can agree that taxpayers should not be forced to pay $2 million for beagle puppies to be injected with cocaine just to fulfill outdated FDA red tape," Goodman said. "We're grateful to Reps. Boyle, Mace, and their colleagues for sticking up for taxpayers and puppies and demanding answers from the NIH about its wasteful and cruel spending on dog experiments. As our 'Coke Hound' investigation has shown, the NIH is addicted to spending and taxpayers in both parties want it to stop."
Published under: NIH