National Association for Biomedical Research
In collaboration with respected, independent scientists, the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) today submitted a petition to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) challenging the recent classification of the long-tailed macaque (Cynomolgus macaque) as Vulnerable according to IUCN criteria. This classification is the result of improperly used data that does not justify a classification as an endangered species. NABR calls for an immediate review.
The National Association for Biomedical Research President Matthew R. Bailey said: “Nonhuman primates represent less than 0.5% of all animals in research, but play a critical role in the development of new medicines, devices and vaccines for humans and pets. Tens of thousands of drugs and therapeutics could never make it through the research and development pipeline without long-tailed macaques in research. The listing of long-tailed macaques and the resulting import restrictions must be based on the best scientific evidence available. Arbitrary restrictions on long-tailed macaque imports could endanger the lives of millions of people and threaten global public health.”
“The IUCN’s classification of the long-tailed macaque as critically endangered sets a dangerous precedent because that decision is not based on peer-reviewed scientific information. This is of particular concern because indiscriminate measures like these make it even more difficult to conduct life-saving medical research in the United States and other countries.”
The IUCN assessment, completed in 2022, contains no scientific evidence to support a reclassification of the long-tailed macaque from endangered to critically endangered. The IUCN assessment contains numerous errors and misstatements and provides no actual evidence of the species’ decline compared to previous assessments.
Non-human primates are currently irreplaceable in neuroscience, neurodegenerative diseases, infectious diseases, immunotherapy, reproduction, aging, chronic inflammatory diseases and other areas of science. Because nonhuman primates and humans share between 93% and 98% of DNA, share similar brain anatomy, and have similar body systems, they are key to discoveries in biomedical research that lead to new drugs, vaccines, and biologics. The overwhelming majority of drugs on the market today rely on safety and efficacy data from multiple animal models before being approved for human clinical trials, according to the Foundation for Biomedical Research’s “Top 25 Drugs and Animal Models” study.
National Association for Biomedical Research President Matthew R. Bailey will appear before the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Animals Committee, which is scheduled to be held on Monday , meeting in Geneva on June 19, 2023, to testify and call for a review of the list of endangered species.
Long-tailed macaques are used extensively in medical drug development research in the United States. The National Academies report Nonhuman Primate Models in Biomedical Research: State of the Science and Future Needs (2023) emphasizes that animal studies, followed by human clinical studies, are currently the best way to assess complex physiological, neuroanatomical, reproductive, developmental, and cognitive effects of medicines to determine whether they are safe and effective for marketing approval. Major regulatory agencies around the world, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), require most new drugs and biologics to be tested for safety and efficacy in rodent and veterinary populations non-rodent models, including non-human primates, before human clinical trials can safely begin.
On March 7, 2022, the IUCN decided that the long-tailed macaque should be classified as “Critically Endangered” according to the IUCN criteria. The basis for this determination is set out in an assessment conducted by MF Hansen and other authors (Hansen et al. 2022 ).
On June 15, 2023, NABR petitioned the IUCN against the list status change. Academics who helped draft the petition point out that there is a lack of data to support the latest status determination. In the assessment by Hansen et al. (2022), the petition notes that the scientific literature cited is often misinterpreted and that this information does not show that the long-tailed macaque population has declined.
The filing of this petition by NABR triggers a scientific review by the IUCN. During this review, scientists will consider the best available scientific information to determine the status of the long-tailed macaque according to IUCN criteria. Upon completion of this process, IUCN will announce its findings and any changes in listing status.
Information on the National Association for Biomedical Research
Founded in 1979, the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) is the only 501(c)(6) nonprofit association dedicated to advocating sound public policy for the humane use of animals in biomedical research, education and testing. Members include more than 340 universities, medical and veterinary schools, teaching hospitals, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, patient groups, and academic and professional societies that depend on humane and responsible animal research to improve human and animal health worldwide. Learn more about us at www.nabr.org.
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