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DOG’S WORST ENEMY: Despite objections, U.S. Veterans Administration secretary backs continuing canine medical testing

Paralyzed Veterans of America, once a strong supporter of dog experiments in treating spinal cord injuries, said that they no longer oppose plans to end the research.

LEO SHANE III: Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is publicly backing the value of canine medical testing at his department, saying the practice could provide potential breakthroughs in treatments for spinal cord injuries and other challenges facing veterans… Just eight months ago, then VA Secretary David Shulkin ordered a review of all medical experiments involving dogs with the goal of phasing them out. Shulkin was fired by President Donald Trump just a few weeks later…

The issue of the dog experiments resurfaced this month after a USA Today report found VA facilities moving ahead with the medical research, potentially in violation of federal law. Last year, as part of appropriations legislation, Congress mandated that the VA secretary personally approve all such experiments and publicly verify that “the scientific objectives of the study can only be met by research with canines”… Critics of the testing say those potential medical benefits are exaggerated, and the VA’s insistence on using the experiments runs contrary to prevailing wisdom in the health care community.

“It’s shameful to see that Sec. Wilkie, who was brought in to clean up VA, is doubling down on this wasteful policy,” said Justin Goodman, vice president of public policy for the White Coat Waste Project. “VA has had 18 months to produce some evidence that this is providing new breakthroughs, and they have failed to do so.” Several veterans groups have changed their stance on the issue in recent years as well. Paralyzed Veterans of America, once a strong supporter of the practice, told USA Today that they no longer oppose plans to end the research. SOURCE…

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