Drug Firms Pledge More Cash For Animal Research

The pharmaceutical industry, under fire from vocal and sometimes violent animal rights activists, has pledged 4 million pounds to fund animal research in universities. GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and U.S.-based Pfizer -- the three biggest drug firms with research operations in Britain -- said on Wednesday their joint fund would provide 1 million pounds a year for the next 4 years. "The fund aims to maintain high quality in-vivo (animal) research relevant to the discovery of new medicines, and thereby support the training of new and existing scientists in the field," the companies said in a statement. The move follows strident criticism of animal rights campaigners this week by GSK Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Garnier, who said investment and jobs were being driven out of Britain by their action. Last week, militants forced construction firm the Montpellier Group to pull out of building a new research laboratory at Oxford University -- a move hailed by animal rights campaigners as a major victory. In January, plans for a primate research laboratory in Cambridge were scrapped after violent protests. The industry's financial support for academic research with animals adds to pressure on the government to crack down on animal rights extremists.

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