The DEA’s Little-Known Experiments on Animals

When you think of government agencies that subject animals to horrible procedures, you most likely think of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the National Institutes of Health, but the Drug Enforcement Administration engages in this, too.

Some overlooked documents shed light on what they’re doing. The general idea is that drug chemists are constantly cooking up “novel compounds” that are usually just slight variations of drugs that are already illegal. In order to make these new versions (“analogues”) illegal, the DEA supposedly has to show that they’re at least as dangerous and likely to be abused as the drugs on which they’re based. (I wrote about this in more detail here.)

In April 2018, I found out about this general plan. Now the DEA has posted more details on FedBizOpps, the website for businesses looking for contracts with the federal government. They’ve put out three calls for contractors to place bids on. All studies will last at least one year, with an option for up to four additional years. Each contract involves analogues of a different set of substances.

Synthetic Cannabinoids and Hallucinogens

“Evaluation of Abuse Potential of Synthetic Cannabinoids, PCP-like Compounds, and Other Hallucinogenic Compounds Using In Vivo Pharmacological Studies” [PDF]

• Link to page on FedBizOpps

In this set of studies, mice and rats will be injected with analogues of THC, LSD, PCP, DMT, DOM, and perhaps other substances. They will also be injected with standard versions of these substances.

As in all three studies, experiments will determine how much this messes up their locomotor activities. Other experiments will test whether the rodents seem to experience the standard drugs and their analogues the same way (i.e., “drug discrimination”).

In addition, there will be a separate set of experiments involving the THC analogues. Researchers will see how much the analogues reduce pain (which will obviously involve causing pain in the mice), how they affect body temperature, and how strongly they induce catalepsy (a trance-like state in which the body becomes rigid).

Synthetic Opioids

“Evaluation of Abuse Potential of Synthetic Opioids Using In Vivo Pharmacological Studies” [PDF]

• Link to page on FedBizOpps

This set of studies will involve shooting up rats with standard versions and analogues of fentanyl, morphine, and “other” synthetic opioids, then testing their locomotor activities and drug discrimination. Additionally, painkilling effects will be tested in rats or mice.

Bath Salts and Other Stimulants

“Evaluation of Abuse Potential of Synthetic Cathinones and Other Substances That Have Stimulant Effects Using In Vivo Pharmacological Studies” [PDF]

• Link to page on FedBizOpps

In the third set of experiments, mice will be injected with synthetic cathiones, also known as bath salts, a powerful stimulant. As a “reference,” some animals will be shot full of meth, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), and cat (methcathinone).

In all three of these contracts, the DEA leaves the door open for further optional studies involving endurance tests, “head twitch response,” and more.

The deadline for businesses to respond was in February 2019. Through FOIA, I’ll be attempting to follow these experiments.

To voice your opposition to shooting rats and mice full of street drugs:

The specific DEA points of contact named in these public documents are Jacqueline Schottler and John C. Girard.

Also, contact the DEA division sponsoring these experiments: Diversion Control Division, Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section. Contact info is on this page: Terry L. Boos, Section Chief, Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section (DPE), 202-307-7183

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