Hold onto your hats, folks. The University of Michigan has been forced to pay back $1.4 million (yes, that’s with seven digits) after it “accidentally” used federal grant money for experiments on animals that it continued long after its approval had lapsed.
The massive refund came to light after PETA filed a Freedom of Information Act request and uncovered documents indicating that U-M had violated federal regulations and guidelines on numerous occasions, including allowing animals to die from starvation and dehydration, performing unauthorized surgeries, and “inadvertently” throwing dozens of animals into a trash compactor.
One U-M experimenter injected a rabbit with an unauthorized anesthetic, which meant that the rabbit had to be euthanized after suffering necrosis of ear tissue and trauma to the eye. In another incident, half a dozen animals died when the chamber in which their cages had been placed caught fire. Some of the animals died of smoke inhalation, while others drowned as their cages filled with water from the sprinkler system.
importantly costly, as it turned out, U-M was charging the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the care of animals who were no longer enrolled in approved experiments. In a March 2007 internal investigation ordered by NIH, U-M determined that over a period of six months, there were 33 incidents in which experimenters continued to test on animals even though the experiments did not have the required approval from the oversight committee.
Unfortunately, this is what happens when the folks who are supposed to implement universities’ so-called “animal care and use programs” just … well … don’t, and when big, bloated bureaucracies like NIH—which gave U-M $423.2 million in 2008 alone—throw money at guys in white lab coats without bothering to check and see what they’re actually doing with it.
We’re now calling on NIH revoke the University of Michigan’s “assurance,” which allows U-M to receive federal funding to perform experiments on animals. Hey, it never hurts to ask, right?
Written by Alisa Mullins