Turkeys — and Chimps — Will Be Saved by Washington This Thanksgiving

National Journal
Elahe Izadi
Nov. 27, 2013, 7:01 a.m.

A couple of tur­keys get­ting pardoned isn’t a big deal, com­pared with the hun­dreds of re­search chimps about to be spared a life­time of liv­ing in re­search labs.

After Pres­id­ent Obama par­dons the tur­keys Wed­nes­day, he will sign in­to law a bill passed by the House and Sen­ate that frees up re­stric­tions on the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health to spend money on re­tired re­search chimps. The bill had strong bi­par­tis­an sup­port on the Hill.

NIH has de­cided it won’t use the an­im­als for re­search any­more and has plans to re­tire most of them. But a 2000 law barred it from spend­ing more than $30 mil­lion over time to take care of re­tired re­search chimps liv­ing in re­serve sanc­tu­ar­ies, the re­tire­ment com­munit­ies for our fel­low prim­ates. The agency had pre­dicted it will hit that lim­it — or the “chimp cliff,” if you will — some­time mid-Novem­ber.

Obama will also sign a hand­ful of health-re­lated bills in­to law, in­clud­ing one that boosts fed­er­al over­sight of phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pound­ing. That le­gis­la­tion came about in the wake of hun­dreds be­com­ing sick and more than 60 people dy­ing from tain­ted ster­oid in­jec­tions pro­duced by a Mas­sachu­setts com­pound­ing cen­ter.

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