Time is Running Out to Register for NABR’s Next Webinar!

Time is running out to sign up for NABR's next webinar! If you would like to attend and have not yet reserved your spot for “The 2017 USDA Inspection Data: Celebrating a New Milestone in Compliance?”, scheduled for next Tuesday Feb. 6 at 12:30 p.m. (EST), please do so immediately.

NABR collects information from the USDA’s Animal Care Inspection System database each year to review the inspection results for the previous fiscal year. Our efforts this year were complicated by a lack of access to the searchable database which could be used to download data into spreadsheets for what would have been a relatively straightforward analysis of the actual inspection data. The new Public Search Tool provides data efficiently, but the data is difficult to analyze. Fortunately, with our analysis, we will provide you with valuable insight into the inspection process.

Join NABR next week on Tuesday, Feb. 6 as we look at FY2017 data and compare it to analyses from previous years. Our findings will demonstrate how the research community continues to improve compliance with the letter and spirit of the regulations. This information will help you manage your own animal care and use program in the coming fiscal year. As always, registration is complimentary for dues-paying NABR members and subscribers. Nonmembers are welcome to attend, but a fee will be applied

 

USDA-ACIS Database Lawsuit Dismissed

Last year, on February 3, 2017, in response to a privacy lawsuit about the Horse Protection Act (HPA), the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) removed from its website the Animal Care Information System (ACIS) database. The ACIS database consisted of documents concerning inspection and licensing of animal research facilities.

A coalition of animal rights groups and activists, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Delcianna Winders, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), Born Free USA, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Beagle Freedom Project (BFP) filed a lawsuit alleging the removal of ACIS information violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As the lawsuit progressed, APHIS continued to review, update, and repost the documents, completing an official review and republishing many of the documents on its website in September 2017. APHIS then filed a motion to dismiss PETA’s lawsuit on various grounds.

On January 18, 2018, U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper dismissed the case, finding PETA’s claims were moot, considering most of the documents had by this time been reposted by APHIS. Regarding the documents that were not reposted, the judge dismissed without prejudice PETA’s complaint, finding those documents could be obtained with a normal FOIA request by PETA, which would allow APHIS to decide whether the documents should be redacted or withheld.

Matthew R. Bailey, FBR President, said exactly that when he spoke to the media last year: “I would certainly agree that protection of personal information is of utmost importance, given the rich history of targeting individuals involved in animal research.” Read the 12-page opinion dismissal here.

Alex Azar, Nominee for Secretary of HHS, Confirmed by Senate

Alex Azar, President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Human and Health Services (HHS), was confirmed yesterday by the Senate.

As former president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., Azar’s nomination has been generally well-received by lawmakers, and his confirmation comes as no surprise. Having also served HHS as general counsel under the George W. Bush administration, he brings both executive branch experience and pharmaceutical company experience to the table. Azar is expected to tackle increasing drug prices.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has expressed full confidence in Azar, stating, “Clearly, Mr. Azar has seen both the good and bad at HHS and knows how to manage them. I don’t think there is anyone here, even on the other side of the aisle, who would contest that.”

European SHAC Animal Rights Extremists Sentenced

Two members of the European-based animal rights group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), were sentenced last week for terrorism acts.

The extremists were directly involved in a series of attacks against employees connected to the Cambridge, UK-based Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). These attacks included threatening HLS  employees and destroying their vehicles by setting fire bombs. Seven other SHAC members were jailed for similar crimes in 2009, and collectively they will serve a 50-year sentence.

The two defendants in this case, Natasha Simpkins and Sven Van Hasselt, were sentenced to two years and five years, respectively.

Members of SHAC USA were also convicted in 2006 for similar crimes against employees of a HLS lab in New Jersey. Among those was Kevin Kjonaas, who served six years for violating the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), precursor to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Kjonaas is now director of operations at the animal rights group the Beagle Freedom Project (BFP).

HHS Nominee Advanced by the Senate Finance Committee

Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee for secretary of Human and Health Services (HHS), has been advanced by the Senate Finance Committee.

With a 15-12 vote, decided primarily by party affiliation, Azar was approved by the Committee last Wednesday afternoon. As former president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., Azar’s nomination has generally been well-received by lawmakers, and he is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, “By any objective account, Mr. Azar is very well qualified for his important position.” If confirmed for the position, Azar has promised to tackle increasing drug prices, citing his ten years with Eli Lilly & Co. as evidence for his leadership on this front.

Though a final vote for the full Senate has not yet been scheduled, his confirmation is expected by the end of the month.

Sign-Up Today for NABR’s First Webinar of 2018!

Please mark your calendar and join us on Tuesday, February 6 for NABR's first webinar of 2018, “The 2017 USDA Inspection Data: Celebrating a New Milestone in Compliance?”

Each year, NABR obtains information from the USDA’s Animal Care Inspection System database to review the inspection results for the previous fiscal year. This year, that effort was complicated by lack of access to the searchable database which could be used to download data into spreadsheets for what would have been a relatively straightforward analysis of the actual inspection data. The new Public Search Tool provides data efficiently, but the data is difficult to analyze. Fortunately, with our analysis, we will provide you with valuable insight into the inspection process.

We invite you to join NABR on Tuesday, February 6 when we look at the data from FY 2017 as we compare it to analyses from previous years. Our findings will demonstrate how the research community continues to improve its compliance with the letter and spirit of the regulations. This information will help you manage your own animal care and use program in the coming fiscal year. As always, registration is complimentary for dues-paying NABR members and subscribers. Nonmembers are welcome to attend.

NABR Letter to Congress Opposing PUPPERS Act

Today, NABR sent a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in opposition to H.R. 3197, the “PUPPERS Act,” and a similar amendment offered by Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) to the House-passed homeland security minibus. The legislation would effectively end studies with canine models at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Earlier this month, 41 scientific and medical organizations and research universities sent a letter to Congress in opposition to these efforts.

NABR’s January Webinar Rescheduled

During NABR’s recent webinar, “Reducing Burden: Options and Opportunities,” we announced our annual review of USDA inspection data was scheduled for January 9, 2018. Since then, a scheduling conflict has occurred, so we are moving the webinar to February 6, 2018. Please mark your calendar for the new date and join us for “The 2017 USDA Inspection Data: Celebrating a New Milestone in Compliance?”

Each year, NABR obtains information from the USDA’s Animal Care Inspection System database to review the inspection results for the previous fiscal year. This year, that effort was complicated by lack of access to the searchable database which could be used to download data into spreadsheets for what would have been a relatively straightforward analysis of the actual inspection data. The new Public Search Tool provides data efficiently, but the data is difficult to analyze. Fortunately, with our analysis, we will provide you with valuable insight into the inspection process.

We invite you to join NABR on February 6, 2018 when we look at the data from FY 2017 as we compare it to analyses from previous years. Our findings will demonstrate how the research community continues to improve its compliance with the letter and spirit of the regulations. This information will help you manage your own animal care and use program in the coming fiscal year. Registration is complimentary for dues-paying NABR members and subscribers.

Over 40 Scientific, Medical Organizations Write to Congress Supporting VA’s Canine Research

The amount of opposition to proposals by Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and freshman Brian Mast (R-FL) to cease funding at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to rise. Today, over 40 organizations in science and medicine wrote to Congress in a letter asking them not to end funding for critical research programs for our nation's veterans.

The letter sent to Appropriations Committee Chairmen Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) discusses the importance of dogs to scientific progress for humans and animals and encourages Congress not to pass further impediments on research for veterans at the VA. It echoes sentiments already expressed by veteran, military, veterinary, scientific, and medical organizations like the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), American Brain Coalition (ABC), American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)The American Legion, American Physiological Society (APS), American Psychological Association (APA), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Association of the U.S. Navy (AUSN), Friends of VA (FOVA), Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), National Defense Committee, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Square Deal for Veterans, and the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD even weighed-in about the issue back in September in a USA Today op-ed.

Currently Congress is considering H.R. 3197 (the PUPPERS Act) and a similar amendment to the House-passed homeland security “minibus,” which seek to end funding for VA studies involving canines.

To read the organizational letter to Congress, please click here.

BREAKING NEWS: President Nominates Next HHS Secretary

Today President Donald Trump (R) nominated Alex Azar to fill the vacancy left by Tom Price as Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary. "He will be a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices," the President announced via Twitter this morning.

Azar, who served as general counsel and then deputy secretary at the HHS under former President George W. Bush, left the pharmaceutical industry in January after almost a decade. Azar, the former president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, is familiar with the regulatory process and according to former Secretary Mike Leavitt, “understands the process and he knows the levers and how you make it work and where the potential roadblocks are.” He is a pragmatic and highly competent leader, according to POLITICO. Even though he has strong ties to Vice President Mike Pence, Domestic Policy Council Director Andrew Bremberg and HHS acting Secretary Eric Hargan, Azar is described as low-key, a vast difference from President Trump and his replacement at HHS, Price.

The nomination comes at a crucial juncture for the agency as it faces many questions about drug approval, pricing, importation, and the hotly contested debate over Obamacare.

The Hill reports that the nomination process will not be easy for Azar with Democrats in the Senate. He is likely to face tough questions and opposition about his former post as a pharmaceutical executive and drug pricing.

To read more on this breaking story, click here. Please also visit CNBC and POLITICO as news breaks.

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