Animal rights group asks for investigation of Everett lab

Federal authorities have cited Altasciences for four critical violations at the research center it operates.

EVERETT — A national animal rights group filed a federal complaint Thursday against a south Everett animal testing laboratory, alleging inadequate veterinary care, improper animal handling and other lapses that contributed to the deaths or bone fractures of several monkeys and pigs.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, a national watchdog nonprofit that investigates animal abuse and illegal activities at U.S. research facilities, filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture based on a July inspection by the agency.

Michael Budkie, executive director of the animal rights group, said the petition asks federal authorities to impose a $70,000 fine and launch a further investigation of the facility.

Altasciences Co., a Canadian firm, operates the animal research facility, which it purchased in 2018 from Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories.

The company provides early-stage research and other services to support the development of new drugs and treatments for humans. Clients include drug development and medical device companies. The facility, founded in 1999, is on a 29-acre site at 6605 Merrill Creek Parkway.

The USDA report by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, dated Nov. 11, cites the Everett facility for four critical violations.

Four monkeys had to be euthanized for humane reasons due to a chemical overdose, the report said.

The arm of a fifth monkey may have been broken by a staff member attempting to restrain the animal during a procedure.

In a third incident, the bone fracture in a pig went undiagnosed for 15 days. A fourth violation involved another pig bone fracture, the report said.

Eight pig enclosures were reported to be structurally unsafe, possibly contributing to the bone breaks. The faulty cages were removed from use, the USDA report noted.

“Altasciences must not be allowed to get away with these totally unnecessary deaths and injuries,” the animal rights group wrote in the letter to the USDA. The agency enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act.

A spokesperson for Altasciences was not immediately available for comment.

The laboratory was advised to correct those issues and others by “ensuring that there is adequate staffing, facilities, equipment and services so that all animals used in study procedures are adequately diagnosed and treated,” the report said.

The animal rights group is asking the USDA to impose a maximum fine of $10,000 per injured or dead animal named in the violations, for a total of $70,000. It is also asking the agency to investigate whether additional animal deaths due to negligence have occurred at the facility.

On the company’s website, Altasciences says its “entire preclinical staff is trained in laboratory animal care and focused on animal welfare and environmental enrichment — embracing compassion, sensitivity and adherence to regulatory guidelines.”

In October 2019, SAEN filed a federal complaint against Altasciences after a routine blood draw at the Everett facility allegedly resulted in the death of a 5-month-old miniature pig. That complaint was based on a confidential company report the group obtained.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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