August 25, 2006
Animal rights activists target Teva: 'Stop working with HLS'.
By Nimrod Halpern
The international battle against animal experimentation has
reached Israel's Teva (TASE, Nasdaq: TEVA). Protestors are
demonstrating outside company offices in Israel, Belgium and
Britain today, demanding that Teva sever its relations with
Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), an animal experimentation
firm that kills about 500 test subjects each day.
Huntingdon Life Sciences is the biggest contract testing firm
in Europe, say the SHAC protestors. SHAC stands for Stop
Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. "We demand that Teva immediately
sever its relations with HLS and adopt more efficient, safe
scientific methods to test materials, which do not involve
causing pointless pain and death to animals," according to
the Israeli branch of SHAC.
HLS runs two labs in Britain and one in the U.S. Together
they slaughter 180,000 animals a year, including dogs and
cats, monkeys, and rabbits. SHAC'S purpose in life is to
shut down HLS, through imposing economic pressures on bodies
and companies that do business with the animal-testing firm.
That includes the banks that give it credit, investors,
clients and suppliers. It has been working: more than 100
bodies have cut their ties with HLS and its shares have lost
most of their value. The company's owners were forced to
infuse money of their own and also to move the company's
headquarters from Britain to the U.S.
But the company's attempt to move its shares from the London
Stock Exchange to the NYSE did not go well. In a dramatic
move, the NYSE announced on September 7, 2005, the day HLS
shares were to have started to trade, that it was suspending
trade in its stock, with no specific limit in sight. It was
the first time in history that the NYSE halted trade in a
company's shares based on a public battle against the
company. Although at the time the NYSE did not explain its
move, it is known that animal rights activists were preparing
to target the exchange as well. (Huntingdon's US listing is
halted at last minute)
SHAC was founded in 1999, two years after Channel 4
television in Britain aired deeply disturbing footage in a
show called "It's a dog's life". The films, shot in secret,
showed HLS workers punching beagle puppies in the face,
shaking them violently, and throwing them against walls.
Four subsequent investigations uncovered horrors in way the
regular HLS staff treated the animals, from deliberate
cruelty and torture to bestiality. Animals were operated on
without anesthetic. Test results were falsified in order to
expedite the time to market of products.
Several HLS workers were convicted after these findings and
HLS itself was slammed with heavy fines.
What do the test animals face? Starvation, electrification,
burns, poisoning, heat and cold, deliberate infection with
diseases, mutilation, and surgery without anesthetic. That is
far from an exhaustive list.
Leaving aside the moral question as to the justification of
any such testing, there is a question about efficacy. Many
scientists say that alternative techniques available today
are better. The tremendous differences in the way species
react to a given therapy render animal testing unreliable to
useless, and major drugs such as digitalis and aspirin were
created without a single animal. Moreover, based on animal
tests, both would have been disqualified.