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October 24, 2020 - Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine

Congressional Briefing: Vaccine Safety Testing Should Not Rely on a Limited Resource

Congressional Briefing: Vaccine Safety Testing Should Not Rely on a Limited Resource
Horshoe Crab at the beach© Photabulous!

WASHINGTON—Conventional vaccine safety testing relies on the blood of the horseshoe crab, a species on which entire ecosystems depend. Threatened or endangered in many of its habitats, horseshoe crab populations have only recently stabilized after declining due to fishing activity.

Many bird, fish, and turtle populations that rely on the horseshoe crabs’ presence are declining or threatened. With André Carson (D-Ind.) serving as honorary Congressional co-host, the Horseshoe Crab Recovery Coalition held a Congressional briefing today to bring awareness to this issue and to urge Congress to take action.

A certain material found in horseshoe crab blood cells can detect fever-causing contamination in vaccines and other injected medicines. A synthetic alternative to the crab-sourced material is available, but regulatory policies make it more burdensome to use. The European Pharmacopoeia has incorporated changes to reduce demand for horseshoe crabs, but the U.S. Pharmacopoeia (USP) has delayed making a similar change

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Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine

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