APA, ACNP and CPDD ask FDA Commissioner to explain suspension of nicotine research project

Study examining effects of nicotine in squirrel monkeys was criticized by Jane Goodall.

A letter from the American Psychological Association, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, sent on October 5, 2017, raises concerns about the Food and Drug Administration’s suspension of a research project examining the behavioral and biological effects of various doses of nicotine in adolescent and adult squirrel monkeys.  A long-term aim of the research is to shed light on the role of nicotine reduction in reducing tobacco addiction in humans.

“On behalf of the members of the American Psychological Association (APA), American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), and College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), we are writing regarding your decision to suspend a specific research program using nonhuman primate models to study nicotine use disorders at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to a letter from primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

“As you may be aware, Dr. Goodall’s letter to you came at the behest of an organization, White Coat Waste Project (WCW), that is fundamentally opposed to all research with nonhuman animals. Your decision to suspend the research is extremely troubling because it appears to have occurred without any substantive input from experts in the scientific community who have deep knowledge and understanding of research on substance use disorders. Furthermore, the methods and technologies used in this study have been rigorously validated and commonly used in studies of substance use disorders, including research that is funded by other federal agencies, such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

“Your letter to Dr. Goodall states that ‘currently there are still some areas for which non-animal testing is not yet a scientifically valid and available option.’ We strongly agree with that statement. We also believe that it falls short of fully recognizing and communicating the important role of nonhuman animal research in both basic and applied science.”

The full text of the letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, is available here. It references a letter opposing the claims of White Coat Waste and Dr. Goodall, signed by 46 researchers and endorsed by 78 additional scientists, including well-known experts in substance use disorders, and an article in the Washington Post that detailed the original FDA decision.