Covance could face fines over animal deaths

A malfunctioning thermostat led to the deaths of 13 research primates at a Covance ($CVD) facility, according to authorities, and the CRO could be in line for federal punishment.

As the Associated Press reports, the problem stems from a Covance lab in Texas where, on two occasions, the temperature in a room housing macaques rose to lethal levels. After the second incident, Covance informed the USDA and began installing temperature alarms at all of the facility's animal housing rooms, AP reports.

For now, Covance is monitoring the facility while the upgrades are underway, the company said, adding in a statement that it "takes very seriously our ethical and regulatory responsibilities to treat research animals with the utmost care and respect."

Meanwhile, the agency is deciding just how to address the issue, weighing options including a warning letter, a fine and suspension. Stop Animal Exploitation Now, an animal-rights group, is petitioning the USDA to fine Covance more than $100,000, its executive director told the AP.

Separately, Covance is awaiting the closure of a $6 billion merger with LabCorp ($LH), a deal expected to come before a shareholder vote this quarter. At least one investor has taken serious issue with the buyout, filing suit last month and claiming that chief dealbroker Goldman Sachs had a conflict of interest in advising Covance through the process.

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