Private Shareholder, PETA Take Animal-Testing Issue to Bristol-Myers Squibb Boardroom

Animal Rights Group and Other Shareholder File Resolution Calling On Company to Assess and Report on Cruel, Debunked Near-Drowning Test

For Immediate Release:
December 18, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Lawrence Township, N.J.

Together with a private shareholder, PETA has submitted a joint shareholder resolution calling on pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb to assess and report on the effectiveness of the “forced swim test,” in which mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils are dropped into beakers filled with water and forced to swim to keep from drowning, purportedly as a model for depression.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb has forced more than 1,000 frantic animals to swim for their lives in a test that hasn’t yielded even one treatment for human depression,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “The company has an ethical and scientific obligation to delve into this test and explain its actions to its shareholders.”

While Bristol-Myers Squibb claims not to be conducting the forced swim test currently, in the past 11 years, the company subjected at least 748 gerbils, 698 mice, and 192 rats to it. Animals used in these tests frantically try to escape and paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, most start to float—which scientific data suggest is a learned and adaptive behavior that saves energy, is beneficial for survival, and is unrelated to depression, despite experimenters’ claims to the contrary. PETA scientists reviewed published studies and found that dropping animals into water in this way is less accurate than a coin toss in determining a drug’s effectiveness in humans. See a video of the test here.

Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sage Therapeutics, Bayer, Pfizer, and Novo Nordisk A/S have all banned the forced swim test after talks with PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. PETA owns small amounts of stock in numerous companies in order to reach boards of directors and shareholders.

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