The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) dropped a bombshell report yesterday, concluding NIH should strengthen oversight of experimentation it funds in foreign countries--and cited our litigation on behalf of the White Coat Waste Project against NIH to close the Foreign Animal Lab Loophole.
In case you missed it, we sued the NIH on behalf of White Coat Waste Project, challenging an illegal agency rule that exempts taxpayer-funded foreign animal labs from animal oversight measures necessary to prevent abuse and waste.
Why did we sue? Federal law is clear: any lab conducting experiments on animals using American taxpayer funds through the NIH must have an animal care committee. These committees review, approve, or withhold approval for proposed animal experiments; inspect animal laboratories; address concerns about animal welfare and lab safety; report deficiencies; ensure animal experiments are not duplicative and that non-animal test methods are considered; and have the power to suspend non-compliant animal experiments.
Despite this clear and binding federal law, NIH published an agency rule, exempting foreign animal labs from compliance. But an agency cannot contradict a federal law, and we are challenging this illegal rule in court.
The GAO report finds NIH provided a shocking $2.2 billion in contracts or grants in fiscal years 2011-2021 to foreign organizations for research involving animals.
In exploring the dearth of oversight of these foreign recipients, GAO notes our case, explaining "Ongoing litigation against NIH asserts that NIH acted beyond its authority, or failed to adhere to administrative law requirements, when it exempted foreign award recipients from maintaining an animal care committee while requiring each domestic award recipient to have such a committee. White Coat Waste Project v. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Case No. 1:22-cv-0006 ..."
We look forward to updating you as our case to close the Foreign Animal Lab Loophole progresses. Currently, both parties have fully briefed NIH's motion to dismiss, and we are awaiting a ruling from the Court.