UPDATED: Animal rights group calls out MPI, USDA over monkey deaths

An animal rights group is criticizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and MPI Research over the recent deaths of two monkeys used for clinical purposes at the CRO's Michigan laboratory.

The self-described animal rights watchdog group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) filed a new complaint with the USDA against MPI, of Mattawan, MI, one of many in the past 5 years. After conducting its own inspection, the USDA agreed with SAEN about MPI's treatment of animals and cited MPI for improper animal handling, improper record keeping, inadequate animal care and failure to provide adequate veterinary care, giving the CRO until September to correct faulty enclosures that led to animal injury. The USDA inspectors' findings from the lab are posted on the SAEN website

Despite action from the USDA, SAEN is unhappy with the way the agency is handling MPI. SAEN calls upon the USDA to issue additional fines and citations, according to its May 8 letter to the agency. "This is actually a repeat of a previous situation where essentially the USDA has not taken action on the previous complaint," Michael A. Budkie, SAEN's executive director, told MLive.com. "There is a case sitting in their system that they haven't taken action on."

While USDA spokesman David Sacks declined to comment on this particular case, he explained that it is the agency's responsibility to make sure that businesses adhere to the Animal Welfare Act, which stipulates rules concerning record keeping and animal handling, among other requirements.

Last fall, the USDA cited MPI for the deaths of four lab animals (two monkeys, a dog and a pig), but animal mistreatment continued, as the subsequent report tells us.

In an emailed statement to FierceCRO, MPI maintains that it is committed to keeping a safe and ethical work environment, and received "many accolades and recommendations" from last month's inspection. 

"We fully recognize the importance of the findings generated by this, and all other inspections. Each and every MPI Research employee is expected to embrace the concept of continuous improvement, and strives to apply that important principle as we implement excellence in animal care," the statement reads. "As a leader in biomedical research and in cooperation with the USDA and our global pharmaceutical and animal health partners, we discuss best practices on an ongoing basis to support the health and welfare of our research animals."  

- read the SAEN release
- more from MLive.com

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comments from MPI Research.

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