Animal Suffering at Colorado Company Prompts Outrage

Novus Biologicals Continues to Use Animals Instead of Superior, Animal-Free Methods to Produce Antibodies

For Immediate Release:
July 2, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Centennial, Colo.

Blood spatters, skin lesions, crusty ears: A federal inspection report of a Colorado antibody-production laboratory reads like a script for a horror movie.

The recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report about an April 2 inspection describes multimillion-dollar company Novus Biologicals as an unkempt and understaffed laboratory where dried blood accumulates on animals and equipment.

The USDA documented other animal welfare violations at the facility in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. These documents demonstrate that Novus forces animals to live in bleak conditions and chronically deprives them of basic care. PETA obtained photos from 2018 through a federal Freedom of Information Act request showing rabbits confined to small, rusted, filth-encrusted wire cages without even a resting board. Two were found dead with a note reading, “Dead??” scribbled onto the metal tag of one of the cages. Veterinarians weren’t contacted when the rabbits fell ill or were found dead. In 2017 and 2018, inspectors found rabbits there who were suffering from diarrhea, had lost significant amounts of weight, and were being bled excessively.

Last month’s inspection report further shows the complete abrogation of duties by Novus’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which has a history of inadequate oversight of the facility. The report notes that the IACUC approved the acquisition of 400 rabbits—double the number that was stated as needed in the research protocol. Considering this apparent lack of institutional oversight and the USDA’s unprecedented decline in enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act in recent years, the citations documented in inspection reports could be just a hint of the problems at Novus.

“Novus Biologicals continues to subject animals to torturous conditions—and what makes it even worse is that the company could produce superior, non-animal antibodies,” says Katherine Groff, a research associate in PETA’s Regulatory Testing Department.

The antibodies produced and sold by Novus, which are used in basic research, regulatory testing, and clinical applications—such as diagnosis of disease and treatment of illnesses—could be produced using methods that don’t involve live animals. PETA scientists are working to replace the use of animals in this industry with superior, cruelty-free methods.

USDA inspection photos and documents are available upon request.

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