Brian Cass Awarded CBE

Huntingdon Life Sciences managing director Brian Cass has been appointed as a Commander in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the third-highest highest rank in the Order of the British Empire (and just shy of knighthood).

Cass was assaulted by violent animal rights thugs in 2001 and the award was seen by British commentators as a signal from the Labour government that it is serious about curtailing animal rights violence.

Along with Cass, a number of others in the pharmaceutical industry including Ian Pollock Sword, chairman of Inveresk Research, and GIll Samuels, of Pfizer, were appointed CBe.

Cass told The Times of London,

It [the award] is very special for me as an individual, but, much more importantly, there couldn’t be a clearer signal of support from the Government, and indeed from society for all those who are involved in research in this sector.

All our people share in this honour, as they have been so resolute in standing up to this pretty awful intimidation we have had to put up with for the past three or four years.

Richard Ley of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry agreed, telling The Times of London,

Brian deserves this award. It does send a very positive message to those who are involved in the research and development of medicines, and to those who conduct the animal experiments that are a vital part of that.

The BBC quoted an unnamed spokesperson for the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection criticizing the award,

I am appalled that in the face of growing public concern that the government has made this symbolic award. It shows the extent of HLS’s high-level support.

Greg Avery of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty said that,

It’s disgusting that someone who causes 500 animal deaths every single day should be awarded a CBE. ‘It casts a long shadow over people who have been awarded them for good reasons. It’s not Tony Blair’s voice we hear now but that of the global companies for whom he has become a mouthpiece.’

And, of course, there were politicians displaying the sort of “lets give in to the extremist” attitudes that are driving medical research out of Great Britain. Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats’ Home Affairs spokesman, said of the award,

I’m very surprised. It’s a political statement by the Prime Minister to demonstrate his commitment to science, but it’s probably ill-judged and unduly provocative. Tony Blair is right to say we must support science but he must recognize that what’s been done at HLS is extremely controversial.

Yeah, do not do anything “unduly provocative” while animal rights extremists are busy assaulting pharmaceutical company employees and driving pharmaceutical companies to the United States and elsewhere. Just appease them and hope they’ll go away. Yeah, that’s a winning strategy.


CBE for animal test boss. Mark Milner, The Guardian (London), June 15, 2002.

Scientists praise CBE for battered boss of animal research labs. Mark Henderson, The Times (London), June 15, 2002.

Controversial lab director gets award. The BBC, June 15, 2002.

Head of animal research laboratory appointed CBE. Christopher Adams and Krishna Guha, The Financial Times (London), June 15, 2002.

Fury at CBE for Huntingdon boss. Lucy McDonald, ThisIsMoney.Com, June 16, 2002.

Novartis Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

Just a couple weeks after suggesting that Great Britain’s failure to control animal rights extremism would deter Novartis from investing there, Novartis last week announced it will spend hundreds of million of dollars to build a state-of-the art research facility in Boston, Massachusetts.

Novartis will kick things off with a $250 million, 400 research center in an MIT-owned research park called Kendall Square.

From there Novartis expects to expand quickly. It is already in talks to lease another building in Kendall Square and is also reported to be looking for 2-3 other buildings in the area to lease.

Novartis joins Pfizer, Wyeth and Merck as companies that have chosen to invest significant research dollars in Cambridge, Mass.

The big loser in this, of course, is Europe. Europe used to be the hands-down winner in drug research, but it is quickly becoming an also-ran due to an unfriendly cultural and legal climate.

According to The Financial Times of London, of all research dollars spent in Europe and the United States, only about 41 percent of that money went to the United States. Today the figure is 58 percent. As a whole, European companies currently conduct 34 percent of their research in the United States, compared to only 26 percent in 1990.

Europe is far behind the United States when it comes to biotech, which is one of the reasons that attracted Novartis to the Kendall Square facility.

The upshot, of course, is that as the United States continues to receive the disproportionate amount of pharmaceutical investment, the animal rights movement’s focus could switch to the United States more than it has. On the other hand, the social climate is far more hostile to the animal rights movement in the United States.

After all, Great Britain’s left-liberal candidate used to brag that he would ban the hunting of foxes with dogs, while the U.S. left-liberal candidate in the last election bragged about how he had hunted as a boy in order to shore up his support in rural areas.

The recent defeats the animal rights movement suffered in the 2002 Farm Bill is a good example of just how little influence the animal rights movement has on national politics in the United States (one of the many benefits of not having a proportional representation system).


Seeking freedom in New England: The decision by Novartis to move research to Boston is the latest step away from Europe by a big pharmaceutical. Daniel Dombey and Victoria Griffith, The Financial Times (London), May 8, 2002.

Novartis coming to Cambridge. Scott van Voorhis, The Boston Herald, May 8, 2002.

Exodus of Pharmaceutical Companies from the UK Begins

When anti-abortion protests in the United States made it impossible to manufacture the controversial drug RU-486 in that country, an agreement was reached to produce it in China. Faced with ongoing animal rights and anti-genetic modification protests in the United Kingdom, pharmaceutical company Nycomed-Amersham recently did the same. This week it announced it would be moving all of its genetic research facilities to China.

Not only does China welcome genetic research, which it sees as important in improving crop yields among other things, but it will also be cheaper for Nycomed-Amersham to operate in China — the company estimates cost savings for employing 1,000 PhD-level researchers at $50 million a year.

Parts of the genetic research outfit will also be moved to Brazil and patents on any resulting therapies or drugs will be patented in China and Brazil.

In a story about the move, The Financial Times of London reported that last year Pfizer’s William Steer complained that “Europe seems to be entering a period of the dark ages, where witchcraft and sorcery are prevailing. There’s a definite anti-science attitude in Europe that is not as pronounced in the U.S.”

If Europe doesn’t come to its senses quickly it could find more drug companies moving research operations to the developing world and China, Brazil and other developing countries might relegate the continent to also-rans when it comes to cutting edge scientific discoveries.


Genetic research to move overseas. David Firm, The Financial Times of London, November 14, 2000.