In light of Merck’s record of failing to provide even the most minimal care to animals used in its experiments, PETA has filed a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant for violating PETA’s shareholder rights and refusing to include a proposal by PETA—a Merck stockholder—among the 2012 proxy materials that are being considered at the company’s upcoming annual meeting. PETA is asking the court to order Merck to include the proposal and give shareholders the chance to cast an informed vote on it.
What Is Merck Trying to Hide?
PETA’s proposal simply requests an annual report on Merck’s “procedures to ensure proper animal care, including measures to improve the living conditions of all animals used in-house and at contract laboratories”—but the drugmaker has refused, apparently preferring to conceal from shareholders how Merck and its contractors have repeatedly violated federal animal welfare laws. Since 2008 alone, Merck’s violations have included caging primates in isolation, inadequate anesthesia procedures and housing of animals, and lack of veterinary care and personnel training, just to name a few.
Merck’s record is especially disturbing since, in the last three years alone, it has used tens of thousands of primates, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs in experiments—including more than 16,000 animals in painful tests, thousands of whom were given no pain relief whatsoever. Shareholders have a right to know what the company is doing to prevent further violations of animal welfare laws, don’t you think?