Science, medical progress, animals and YOU

Dear reader,
I am concerned about what is happening in Montreal with pharmaceuticals and their R&D centers. Aren't you?
The latest announcement came from Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) in Laval - 170 jobs lost at their Virology research facility, a well known center of excellence with a focus on translational research.
The 36$million investment was discribed as follows by BI in 2008 at the time of opening

"On behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim, I am proud to be in Laval to mark this historic day within the company as we celebrate this new expansion project," said Christian Boehringer, Chairman of the Shareholders Committee Boehringer Ingelheim.
"The Laval facility has contributed to scientificdiscovery in the area of virology that may not only help patients in Canada,but around the world. This site is expected to make an even greater contribution to the translation of scientific discoveries into drugs which help patients. And that is what Boehringer Ingelheim stands for, research into health areas of unmet need."
As one of the four principal research centers for Boehringer Ingelheim worldwide, the Laval facility focuses on the discovery of new treatments for Hepatitis C and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, which causes AIDS)infection, diseases for which either no vaccine exists or current therapy is unsatisfactory. The new laboratories will allow Boehringer Ingelheim to continue to contribute to and complement its existing product portfolio, which includes HIV treatments VIRAMUNE(R) and APTIVUS(R).

Neither of the diseases mentioned have been cured as far as I know and the quality of the research nor the researchers are at cause for the announced 2013 closure.
So what is happening in the pharmaceutical world? Is research being delocated? Is there no more translational research taking place in Montreal, or is the industry increasingly being prevented from bringing in crucial research animals such as non human primates? In the United Kingdom because of animal rights actions, the situation has deteriorated to such a point that there's no UK based carrier available to transport research animals such as non human primates into the country. Non human primates are critical research models used in the search for cures against both deseases (Hep C and HIV).
I think it is time for the general public to better understand how animal research is linked to medical progress and why we need to have research centers in Montreal, Québec and abroad if we want to continue to be important players in the search for cures and medical advancement.
An initial piece of information can be found here http://www.pro-test.org.uk/MAAR.pdf
What can you do to help?
1/Stand by the pharmaceutical and airline industry and voice your support through associations such as AALAS – American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (www.aalas.org), CALAS—Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Science (www.calas-acsal.org) ICLAS – International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (www.iclas.org) and other scientific and professional organizations that advocate for both biomedical research and laboratory animal welfare. Ensure that the issue of protecting humane research animal transportation is on their agendas.
2/Ensure that your elected officials appreciate the importance of research centers and animal research. Ask them to look into the problems of delocating research and the declining pool of available airlines for the continued transport of research animals.
3/Inform others as to the humane and judicious nature of animal research, and why it is still needed. Underscore its achievements and the medical progress to which it has contributed. Information and links to resources to get you started are available from Speaking of Research site, and on my Advancing Animal Research blog at http://research4drugdiscovery.blogspot.ca/

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