Image courtesy of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine DETROIT—A hard-hitting billboard that has gone up near Wayne State University criticizes use of dogs in heart failure experiments. The huge billboard, sponsored by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, was timed to highlight the Wayne State Board of Governors meeting on Feb. 7.
Motorists headed south toward the university on Interstate 75 north of E. Grand Boulevard were confronted with the message: “Doctors urge Wayne State: Stop dead-end dog experiments now!” The billboard shows a huge photograph of a hound similar to one named Rogue who died in the laboratory at Wayne State. People can read her story at RogueExperiments.org.
“Wayne State’s Board of Governors should immediately halt the dead-end dog experiments,” says Kenneth Litwak, DVM, PhD, associate director of laboratory medicine for the Physicians Committee. “Taxpayers are paying millions of dollars for dog experiments that do not advance human health. And the dogs suffer multiple surgeries and months of painful experiments and forced exercise.”
Detroit-area physician Jennifer Giordano, DO, Dr. Litwak, and cardiologist John J. Pippin, MD, have written a strongly worded letter to Debbie Dingell, chair of the Wayne State Board of Governors. The letter describes what happens to the dogs in the laboratory and demands that Ms. Dingell take immediate action to phase out the experiments.
Dr. Litwak will be testifying before Ms. Dingell and the other members of the Board of Governors on Feb. 7. The open meeting starts at 3:15 p.m., with public comments towards the end. It will take place in the Margherio Family Conference Center located within the Mazurek Education Commons at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, 2361 Gordon H. Scott Hall, 540 E. Canfield, Detroit.
A Michigan judge recently ruled in favor of the Physicians Committee and ordered Wayne State to provide the dogs’ medical records and other documents for Physicians Committee experts to analyze.
Records show that a brown and white hound named Wilma was “sweet & friendly, a little shy.” She was reluctant to walk on the treadmill, as required by the experiment. After about one month in the laboratory and a five hour surgery, Wilma was killed. Hazel, another brown and white hound, suffered four surgeries in five weeks and had 12 different devices implanted into her body.
The heart failure experiments at Wayne State use and kill about 26 dogs per year and are scheduled to continue through March 2016. Since 2001, taxpayers have paid more than $5 million for experiments that have not resulted in treatments for patients with heart disease.
Epidemiological studies, such as the Framingham Study and many others, continue to give researchers insight into the causes of heart disease, while human clinical trials provide treatment and prevention options. The National Institutes of Health should fund only human-relevant research.