Covance, Big Tobacco, and Smoking Beagles: Science in the Public Interest
Covance, Big Tobacco, and Smoking Beagles: Science in the Public Interest? Documents made public through a tobacco settlement reveal an intimate relationship between Big Tobacco and Covance (formerly known as Hazleton) over a period of more than 30 years. A 2000 report compiled by the Imperial Tobacco Group in the U.K. describes the construction of a "purpose-built research facility at Harrogate in Yorkshire to conduct research" related to smoking in which "large amounts" of "cigarette smoke condensate" were painted on animals' skin. The report notes that "[i]n 1974, the laboratories at Harrogate were sold to Hazleton Laboratories, and from then on," tobacco experiments�including inhalation experiments�were conducted under contracts with Hazleton.
A confidential report from 1978 describes experiments conducted at Hazleton's laboratories in Reston, Virginia�the same location to which Hazleton/Covance imported Ebola-infected monkeys from the Philippines�involving "the chronic exposure of male beagle dogs to whole cigarette smoke and smoke enriched with carbon monoxide (CO)." The dogs were killed at the end of the study. A 2002 paper in the journal Inhalation Toxicology blasted inhalation experiments on animals like those done at Hazleton for failing to show that smoking cigarettes does increase the cancer risk in humans, noting that "[s]ignificant increases in the numbers of malignant tumors of the respiratory tract were not seen in rats, mice, hamsters, dogs, or nonhuman primates exposed for long periods of time to very high concentrations of mainstream cigarette smoke." Consequently, the inhalation experiments at Hazleton were responsible for the suffering of the animals in the experiments and of humans.
In 1998, Covance conducted experiments "establishing" that even the most extreme exposure to secondhand smoke is equivalent to smoking only six to nine cigarettes per year. It was later revealed that the study was sponsored by the Centre for Indoor Air Research, a front group for the tobacco industry. In contrast to Covance's findings, the U.S. surgeon general has reported that exposure to secondhand smoke substantially increases the risk for lung cancer and heart disease in humans.
Confidential documents printed on Covance stationery and dated July 10, 2002, identify a "Philip Morris/Covance Project Team" comprised of 40 people that aims to cement a close relationship in which Covance would conduct studies for Philip Morris. At a conference for TABINFO, a tobacco trade group, held in Manila in November 2005, Covance gave a presentation entitled "How Can Covance Support R&D Needs of the Tobacco Industry?"
In sharp contrast to Covance's claims that the company cares about animal welfare, video footage shot by PETA inside Covance's labs exposes abysmal cruelty and neglect. Fines imposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Covance for serious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act provide further evidence of Covance's misrepresentation of its treatment of animals. Likewise, Covance presents itself as a company that cares about people and that wants to bring "miracles to market." However, Covance's longstanding relationship with Big Tobacco paints a very different picture�one of a company that cares about profits more than it cares about humans and other animals.