JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - First-year medical students at University of Mississippi Medical Center often learn through hands-on lab exercises involving live animals, in most cases pigs. The pigs are euthanized when it is over. At least one group of physicians called it cruel and unnecessary and wants it to stop.
On the web site homepage for Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine or PCRM, there is a piglet and a plea for UMMC to stop pig labs.
"To teach medical students you do not need to kill animals. Virtually nobody is doing it and UMMC is far behind the standard of practice in medical education," said PCRM cardiologist Dr. John Pippin.
UMMC is one of seven medical schools in North America that use this method to teach doctors in training. PCRM has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against UMC for allegedly violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.
UMMC officials released a statement which reads in part, "Abandoning animal procedures, as PCRM suggests, would dramatically impede biomedical discovery and prolong suffering caused by diseases."
In a new twist, the son of a famous doctor is speaking out against PCRM. Peter Heimlich, son of Dr. Henry Heimlich who created the Heimlich maneuver, claims his father allegedly used people for controversial medical research. Dr. Heimlich serves on the board for PCRM which fights for ethical treatment of animals and humans.
"My concern is the organization seems to put the interest of pigs above human beings who are being subjected to violative medical research," said Peter Heimlich.
PCRM has been criticized by others as being a "PETA front group" and even promotes a vegan diet on their web site.
"I'd say they're fools," said Dr. Pippin. '"We don't have any relationships with any industries. We don't do this for money. We do it because it's the right thing to do."
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