Mediclone Biotech’s Licence is Suspended After Animal Welfare Board Inspection

For Immediate Release:
20 April 2017

Dr Manilal Valliyate  [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari  [email protected]

Antitoxin Producer Caught in ‘Gross Violation’ of Animal Experimentation Guidelines

Tamil Nadu – After 2015 Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) inspections revealed widespread abuse of equines who are used to produce antitoxins and antivenins, the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) has at last temporarily suspended the experimentation licence of Chennai based Mediclone Biotech Pvt Ltd – one of the facilities implicated in the damning inspections – pointing out that the institution has repeatedly failed to improve its animal-housing facility. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has been calling on CPCSEA to act on the AWBI reports on inspections of Mediclone and other facilities since 2016.

The summary inspection report is available here, video footage is available here, and photos can be downloaded here.

“Mediclone was one of 10 facilities caught exploiting horses as living blood factories while denying them much-needed veterinary care for painful conditions”, says PETA India Science Policy Advisor Dr Dipti Kapoor. “PETA is calling on authorities to ensure that every one of these institutions is no longer permitted to use and abuse horses and other equines.”

Mediclone and the other institutions inspected by the AWBI extract large volumes of blood from horses, mules, or donkeys to make antitoxins or antivenins that are xported worldwide. At Mediclone, inspectors discovered a horse with a deep elbow wound, a malnourished equine with an abnormal gait, a blind horse, a horse with a swollen fetlock joint on the hind leg, and other suffering animals. Most of the animals at the facility also had lesions seemingly from hot-iron branding, which is prohibited by CPCSEA. The company also caught breeding horses for experimentation without authorisation. The inspectors reported that between 2013 and 2015, 15 foals were born at a facility run by Mediclone without CPCSEA’s approval.

The AWBI documented numerous other issues at institutions across India, including equines who suffered from poor dental care, digestive tract diseases, painful lesions on their hind legs, anaemia, diseased hooves,and skin diseases such as ringworm. Staff at these facilities lacked knowledge of proper animal care and management techniques, and the institutions 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 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.

The nine other facilities that the AWBI inspected include Serum Institute of India, VINS BioProducts Limited, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited, Premium Serums and Vaccines Pvt Ltd, Biological E Limited, King Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Limited, Raut Serum India Pvt Ltd, and Serawin Biologicals Pvt Ltd. of these facilities, Serum Institute of India outsources its work on equines.

To prevent thousands of horses from being used to produce antitoxins and antivenins, the PETA International Science Consortium Ltd is funding ground-breaking research to produce antitoxins for diphtheria, a serious illness that can cause difficulty breathing and severe damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and heart.

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