Major Indian Antitoxin Manufacturers Under Fire for Sick, Malnourished, Neglected Horses

For Immediate Release:
6 October 2016

Dr Dipti Kapoor  [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari  [email protected]

PETA Urges Environment Ministry to Shut Down Cruel Factory-Like Equine Facilities

New Delhi – A series of inspections – authorised by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and conducted by veterinarians and experts from prominent veterinary colleges and renowned non-governmental organisations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India – has revealed widespread abuse and neglect of thousands of equines in India who are being used as living factories to produce antitoxins and antivenins. In response to the findings, which were recently obtained via Right to Information requests, including to the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on or abuse in any other way” – is calling on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to shut down the equine-abusing facilities.


The 10 facilities inspected include Serum Institute of India, VINS BioProducts Limited, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited, Premium Serums and Vaccines Pvt Ltd, Biological E Limited, Mediclone Biotech Pvt Ltd, King Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Limited, Raut Serum India Pvt Ltd, and Serawin Biologicals Pvt Ltd. All these institutions – except for Serum Institute of India, which inspectors were told outsources its work to Premium Serums and other suppliers – extract large volumes of blood from horses, mules, or donkeys to make antitoxins or antivenins.

“In facilities across India, frightened, lame, and malnourished equines are left to suffer without proper veterinary care while being used as living blood bags for antitoxin and antivenin producers”, says PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura. “PETA is calling on the government to shut down these abusive, miserable factories and encourage modern, animal-free ways of manufacturing these products.”

At most of the inspected facilities, bleeding records indicate that many animals are bled several times a month and have more blood drawn than is permissible according to the CPCSEA guidelines. Their blood is then used to make antitoxins and antivenins that are exported worldwide.

Inspectors observed equines who cowered or became defensive in response to human contact and were otherwise apathetic. Inspectors also observed that many animals suffered from poor nutrition, poor dental care, digestive tract diseases, painful lesions on their legs, and severe abnormalities, and skin diseases such as ringworm were also commonly observed.

Staff at these facilities lacked knowledge of proper animal care and management techniques, and the facilities employed too few veterinarians and were ignorant of pain-management procedures. They left seriously ill equines to die slowly without the option of euthanasia and commonly used animals who were too young or too old according to guidelines set forth by the CPCSEA.

Equines were also forced to stand in their own excreta in crowded, dirty, and waterlogged sheds. Seriously ill animals were housed together with healthy ones, placing the latter at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as glanders, equine influenza, and equine herpes virus.

Inspectors recorded numerous apparent violations of laws and guidelines, and many of the facilities were not even registered with the CPCSEA to use animals. Section 4(a) of the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998, states, “No establishment shall perform any experiment on animals unless it is registered”.The AWBI immediately submitted the inspection reports to the CPCSEA, but rather than taking action to help these animals, the CPCSEA removed the AWBI chair and vice-chair from the committee, leaving the group with no representation.

PETA urges the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to act immediately to shut down these cruel facilities and ensure the equines they have exploited receive the veterinary and rehabilitative care they need.

PETA India also urges the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfareto commit to supporting the development of additional non-animal antitoxins and antivenins and to stop relying on the abuse and neglect of thousands of equines each year.

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