A national group of animal activists has claimed in a recent press release the IU School of Medicine is responsible for the deaths of 116 test animals and the injuries of others.
The organization, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, is an Ohio-based group which claims to have uncovered the information by obtaining internal University letters and correspondence.
The 17 IU reports SAEN obtained and released detailed various conditions and situations which developed over the course of several months, from April 2016 to October 2017.
One document details how 40 mice were accidentally drowned in their cages, while another report says 15 mice went through a procedure, suffering unnecessary pain and distress and later died as a result.
Findings from the reports also mention mice were not given enough anesthetic during surgery and experienced dirty and poor conditions. Other incidents included several mice starving and the malfunctioning of a hypoxia chamber, causing six rats to suffocate in a chamber.
"This is shocking. And the reality is that Indiana University School of Medicine considers these animals to be disposable," Michael Budkie, SAEN executive director, said. "Otherwise they wouldn't have allowed these animals to die of starvation, dehydration, suffocation and drowning."
Budkie and SAEN have called for an independent investigation into IUSM and the multiple cases of what they call negligence and research malfeasance.
SAEN claimed these documents were "uncovered' and never meant to be available to the public. The University denies that claim saying it followed procedure by submitting those reports to the appropriate public agencies.
Chuck Carney, IU's director of media relations, said the documents are all public ones which IU sent to the respective oversight agencies and are freely available.
"This group has not uncovered any documents, simply made them much more publicly available," Carney said via email.
A University statement Carney provided emphasized that IU maintains the highest professional standards of care for animals and is in full compliance with national guidelines and rules. The IU School of Medicine also passed two external site reviews by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a private nonprofit group for the promotion of humane animal treatment, according to the IU release.
"All cited incidents, which involved mice and rats, were self-reported, demonstrating that the university is diligent in monitoring and taking corrective action when necessary," the release stated. "In each case, the filings were approved and accepted by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare."
Researchers at IU School of Medicine are involved with trying to improve treatments for brain injuries, pediatric care and to come up with cures to illnesses like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and to improving overall patient health both in Indiana and abroad.
"The university and school strive to have no incidents involving laboratory research and continuously assess protocols and procedures to make improvements when possible," according to the IU release.
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