National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

SmithKline Beecham Laboratories, Stock, Essex

NAVS undercover investigation 1990

Examples of experiments witnessed at Stock

19.9.90 Carc. study - in S7 rodent unit (this was a long-term, or chronic, carcinogenicity test). This room contained hundreds of rats nearing the end of their lifespan, nearly all were obese and tumour-ridden and the room had an overpowering stench of death. In a study that had lasted over two years, these poor animals had spent virtually their whole lives in this room. Kept on wire grid floors, many had developed foot sores; the worst were given paper tissue to sit on but it made little difference, as they just chewed it up. Some had bore tumours which had actually ruptured. A couple of rats were virtually incapacitated by the size of their tumours - one was so large that the animal could barely walk. On being asked if it should be put down, the technician in charge replied that because the study had nearly ended the animals were being left “until they dropped".

5.12.90 Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD) study on two beagles, 1 male and 1 female. This test is employed when a compound is known to produce unwanted side-effects. The dose is increased until the level of suffering is considered ‘unacceptable’. These two dogs were being used to test a compound designed to alleviate dementia in humans. One of its known side-effects was to cause spontaneous vomiting shortly after dosing. The technique used was gavage dosing, which is to force a rubber tube directly into the stomach. On this particular day the male, already extremely nervous, resisted and struggled violently. The doser kept trying to force the tube down but each time it got stuck. The tube must be inserted in one swift movement to reach the stomach. The dog became more and more distressed with each unsuccessful attempt and a battle of wits ensued with another male technician having to help to physically restrain the dog. Finally, they succeeded in dosing the dog and it was returned to its pen to begin the vomiting cycle.

October 1990 - In room 119, S17 rodent unit, a 28-day oral dose study in female rats was carried out. A repeat experiment was done for further investigation. Animals were divided into seven groups to test two anti-diabetic drugs. Again, a rubber tube was forced down into the rats’ stomachs and a measured dose of compound delivered via a syringe. As the study neared conclusion, rats in the high dose group developed large hard, fatty lumps behind their shoulders. These animals were also nearly twice the size of other rats. One rat was blinded in one eye during orbital sinus bleed.

27.11.90 Dog post-mortem. One beautiful, young male dog rendered unconscious by injection of phenol barbiturate until it was only just alive with a very slow heart beat. A rod was screwed into its sternum to obtain a bone marrow sample and then it was taken immediately into the post-mortem room. Still alive, it was placed on a sloping draining board, with its head hanging over the sink. A man then sliced into its neck and severed both main arteries so that blood gushed away, draining the dog of its life. Unbelievably, the atmosphere in the room was light-hearted and jovial as the team went about their work, cracking jokes as they hacked the dog apart. Only a few minutes earlier, this dog had been alive, looking around and sniffing the air for smells; now it was simply a lump of flesh. All its vital organs were removed for analysis, including its eyes. Each foot was sawn off with a hack-saw as the anti-viral compound being tested was suspected of causing damage to the dog’s pads. This is one of the most shocking and upsetting experiences I’ve ever had. What I can’t comprehend is how these people have become so completely de-sensitised; for them this is an everyday job. It was an example of the slippery slope laboratory personnel are on, towards complete desensitisation.

21.9.90 I discovered that diazepam (Valium) was being tested. The study had been completed on 17th September and carried out in Room 117. It was a dietary study (added to food) to test “palatability and withdrawal” even though we know the devastating effects it has had on thousands of human victims. The NAVS has covered the issue of benzodiazepine tranquillisers such as Valium on many occasions, currently more than 2,000 people have begun legal proceedings against drug companies who have manufactured them in which claims are made which could run into millions of pounds of compensation. Undoubtedly, the effects and problems of diazepam on people have been well recorded.

28.9.90 rats in room 102 were being used in a repeat test of an anxiolytic compound. The initial study had resulted in high incidence of cataracts and eye damage in acute dose rats: but in the repeat study no such damage could be seen. Inconsistencies surface all the time in these repeat studies and cannot be explained away, leaving the technicians puzzled. Animals, of course, are not standardised tools and each one is different. Most experimental animals are weighed daily and some lose weight dramatically for no apparent reason (except that they are probably thoroughly miserable).

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