This excerpt taken from the ABT DEF 14A filed Mar 16, 2009.
Shareholder Proposal on Animal Testing (Item 5 on Proxy Card)
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20016, and 7 other proponents have informed Abbott that they intend to present the following proposal at the meeting. Abbott will provide the proponents' names and addresses to any shareholder who requests that information and, if provided by a proponent to Abbott, the number of Abbott common shares held by that proponent.
Resolved: that shareholders encourage the Board of Abbott Laboratories ("Abbott") to prepare and issue a detailed report to shareholders by November 30, 2009, incorporating (1) an animal use inventory, including, but not limited to designations by species, numbers, and the nature and purpose of each use (e.g., research and development, efficacy, toxicity), and (2) a written plan with a reasonable timeframe for replacing, reducing and refining the use of animals ("3Rs") in all research, development and testing, where not otherwise mandated by law. The report should address animal use in all of the Abbott's research, development and testing conducted by in-house or contracting laboratories. Finally, the Board should consider creating a management position committed solely to ensuring Abbott's realization of the 3Rs.
Proponent's Statement in Support of Shareholder Proposal
Product development or testing on animals carries moral and scientific obligations to adhere to the modern principles of the 3Rs. As a result, replacement of animal testing has increasingly become a matter of significant controversy, debate, and public policy concern. The scientific imperative for this change is furthered not only by the high failure rate of pharmaceuticals, but by recent advances in genomics, systems biology, and computational biology.
Astonishingly, 92% of drugs deemed safe and effective in animals, fail when tested in humans.(1) Out of the 8% of FDA-approved drugs, half are later relabeled or withdrawn due to unanticipated, severe adverse effects. A 96% failure rate not only challenges the reliability of animal experiments to predict human safety and efficacy, it creates enormous risks of litigation, adverse publicity, and wasted resources. Drugs with remarkable promise for human health can have delayed market entry, if at all, because misleading animal results may portray safe products as dangerous.
In addressing these shortcomings, Abbott should consider the recent report by the National Academies' esteemed National Research Council ("NRC"). The report stated: "Advances in toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, epigenetics, and computational toxicology could transform toxicity testing from a system based on whole-animal testing to one founded primarily on in vitro methods."(2) These approaches will improve efficiency with cost cutting, increased speed, better, more predictive science based on human rather than animal physiology, and reduced animal use and suffering. Abbott's accelerated adoption of cutting edge human-based technologies potentially enables increased profitability of drug development, a strengthened leadership role in pharmaceutical technology, and advancement of the 3Rs' vision to replace all animal use in research and testing.
With high failure rates and potential human health implications of animal-tested drugs, Abbott should concretely outline the implementation of alternatives that will safely and effectively address human health risks. We urge shareholders to vote in favor of this proposal to require Abbott to report an implementation plan for the 3Rs and the replacement of animal-based testing.