PCRM supports medical students opposed to dog experiments
DENVER (Mar 6, 1996 12:27 p.m. EST) -- A national physicians group is launching an advertising campaign to support University of Colorado medical students troubled by fatal experiments they are required to perform on dogs.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has taken out ads in local newspapers encouraging medical students to refuse to operate on dogs in their first-year physiology class.
"At the end of the day, all the animals are dead. They're in a trash bag, and there's no way to review it," said Neal Barnard, president of the Washington, D.C.-based committee, a think tank representing 3,500 members.
The CU medical school, at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, last year paid $95,000 to a former student who sued, saying the dog experiments were against her religion. As part of its settlement with Safia
Rubaii, CU officials promised to establish a review process to accommodate future students with similar beliefs.
The physicians group has prepared an ad that says: "For the first time ever, students at the University of Colorado have a choice. We hope they use it."
The physiology course -- a requirement for first-year medical students -- begins again next week.
Influential instructors at the medical school have steadfastly defended the use of dogs in physiology.
Dr. Richard Krugman, dean of the medical school, said Tuesday that the practice is an important part of the curriculum.
Krugman said CU's new policy dictates that students with objections other than religious ones can take them to a curriculum committee, which reviews class content and may make changes.
Dogs, most of them obtained from out-of-state kennels, are anesthetized and cut open so students can observe various bodily functions. They are too mutilated to be saved, when the procedures are over.
Barnard said that about 60 percent of the nation's medical schools have stopped using the procedure in favor of computer simulations and other alternatives. Columbia Medical School on New York has stopped using live animals in classes, citing financial reasons, a school spokeswoman said.
Barnard said students don't need to see the effects of drugs on a live heart and kidneys to understand how they work. That information can be found in books or computer simulation programs, which students can review often as often as necessary.
"I think they've been very slow to modernize," Barnard said.