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Pharma welcomes amended Bill

Government plans to amend the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill have been universally welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry.

Government plans to amend the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill have been universally welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry.

The UK government revealed that it would amend the Bill after extreme animal rights groups extended their campaigns to include companies that do business with animal research firms.

The new plans would make it a criminal offence to cause ìeconomic damageî through campaigns of intimidation. Campaigners found guilty of targeting companies such as construction firms and cleaners could face a five-year prison sentence.

Dr Richard Barker, director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) revealed that the legislation would deal with ìthe intimidatory and threatening activities of animal extremistsî.

ìPharmaceutical companies will see this as a watershed not just in terms of removing a key concern about future investment into the UK, but also in the drive to develop new medicines for patients,î he said.

Dr Philip Wright, the ABPI's director of science and technology added: ìNo-one wishes to curb those who wish to make legitimate, peaceful protest within the law, but the activities of animal extremists have descended into a pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence that cannot be tolerated.î

Aisling Burnand, chief executive of the BioIndustry Association (BIA), agreed: ìWhilst the BIA would not wish the rights of individuals to engage in legitimate and peaceful protest to be curtailed, researchers have the right to engage in legitimate research without fear of campaigns of harassment and intimidation from animal extremists.î

ìAround 50 per cent of the world's diseases have no cure and animal research is currently vital for the development of innovative treatments to meet unmet medical need,î she added.

In August last year, construction company, Montpellier Group, pulled out of an £18m contract to build an animal research laboratory at Oxford University after animal extremists intimidated the company's investors. The Construction Confederation also warned that companies could refuse to work on animal-research projects.

30th September 2008

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