Covance animal torture facility, considered "crucial for Chandler economic
development", has opened its doors today and a dark day it is indeed.
by Luci Scott and Kerry Fehr-Snyder - Jan. 18, 2009
One of the largest drug-development services companies in the world is moving into southeast Chandler, potentially adding $1.8 million annually to the Valley's economy and giving the region its "first really serious play" in bio-industry.
Covance, based in Princeton, N.J., received the go-ahead Thursday from city officials to open its $100 million, two-story center near the Chandler airpark.
Thousands of pieces of equipment will be moved into the facility this month, and Covance plans to ramp up production by spring. The company is considered a possible magnet for other biotech companies, increasing Chandler's high-tech profile while diversifying the Valley's economy.
"What Covance really does is it gives us our first really big serious play on the bio-industry side of the biotech world," said Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
Christine Mackay, Chandler's director of economic development, called Covance an anchor.
"I anticipate they will act as a signature draw to bring other companies into Chandler - vendors and suppliers for Covance and companies that want to be near Covance," she said.
The company contracts with pharmaceutical firms to test products for toxicity. Annual revenue exceeds $1.5 billion. Covance employs 8,900 workers in more than 20 countries. It has facilities in Madison, Wis., and Vienna, Va., and built the Chandler site to serve clients on the West Coast.
Testing on animals
At the Chandler center, Covance will test chemicals and potential drugs on mice, rats, dogs and monkeys. Human clinical trials of drugs could follow if Covance expands on its 77-acre site.
The Food and Drug Administration requires companies to test pharmaceuticals on two animal species to evaluate their safety and effectiveness before testing those drugs in human clinical trials. An oversight committee will evaluate studies to determine how many animals are needed for each.
Because of the research involving animals, the company has drawn criticism from animal-rights groups. In early 2006, about 15 activists hoping to prevent construction of the Chandler facility took to the streets, carrying signs that read, "Covance is not welcome in Chandler," along with photos of injured monkeys.
Critics have said that testing drugs on animals is cruel and t hat it's becoming less of a necessity because of computer modeling and genetic screening.
Jan McClellan, who formed a grass-roots group called Citizens Against Covance, cited a 1989 incident in Reston, Va., when a monkey imported by Covance's predecessor, Hazleton Research Products, tested positive for the Ebola virus.
"I just think they're a bad neighbor and a bad company," she said.
Camilla Strongin, a Covance spokeswoman, said critics were mischaracterizing the incident. Strongin said opponents failed to acknowledge that the Ebola virus strain was not transmissible to humans and that it was discovered in an animal-quarantine facility, not a drug-testing lab.
Ray Woosley, CEO of the non-profit Critical Path Institute, which works to improve the approval process for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, also said Covance critics were misguided.
"If anyone objectively looks at Covance, that's the kind of partner you want in a community because they do (toxicology testing) right," he said. "There are some forms of toxicity that you won't know about until you give (the substance) to a living animal."
For Chandler and for the Valley, the presence of Covance is considered crucial for economic development.
"All of the major biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the western half of the United States are going to have some type of science collaboration going on in Chandler," Broome said.
Mackay said she had given tours to at least three Covance-related companies interested in relocating to Chandler.
"As an economic-development group, your hardest-fought win is to get a company out to see your community and what it has to offer," she said. "(With Covance,) we'll get them there through no effort of our own."
The company will also distribute Chandler's community profile, Mackay said. The community profile is a slick booklet full of statistics and information about Chandler.
Covance has hired 80 people so far. Initially, the company said it would hire 500, but more hires depend on the contracts it wins. An estimate by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council forecasts that Covance will contribute $1.8 million in property, sales and utility taxes to the region annually.
The company has created opportunities in higher education as well. In 2008, Chandler-Gilbert Community College began offering a degree in biomedical-research technology.
Economic "stability" built of the blood and torture of the innocent.
What the Investigator Heard
"Goddamn ... I'm gonna knock you out ... you little bitch. You little hateful ass, you."
"Yeah, I'm coming for you again today. Yeah. Yep. You again today. I'm gonna kick your ass again, too."
"Open your damn mouth. You crazy ass. Open up, fool ... you bastard. Oh you're making me mad now, goddammit."
"Oh, your belly looks bad. All I know is if I had that rash on my belly by ... an incision site, I'd be at the hospital on some serious antibiotics."
"They came unexpectedly this time. Usually they show up and they give us a heads-up when they're gonna be back so we ain't got nothing to worry about."
"I look like I've been in a butcher shop!"
"The ACUC ... is powerful if they want to be ... there's a lot of politics involved, because ... you're losing money from the sponsor, and you're threatening to lose a client who might bring in millions and millions of dollars. You don't want to piss them off."
"Those things looked like [Q] punched them!"
Please visit www.Covancecruelty.com