University Halts Cocaine Experiment Because Rats Were Shocked For Too Long

According to emails between USC and the NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, the university halted a cocaine experiment because rats were shocked for too long.

A series of experiments at USC involving rats, cocaine and electric shocks has been stopped following a university investigation into complaints about lab-animal welfare.

The experiments involved laboratory rats receiving electric shocks as punishment for seeking cocaine, according to records from the National Institutes of Health, which provided the experiment with grant funding.

The experiments have been halted because the electric shocks were administered for longer periods of time and at greater strength than had been approved, according to emails between USC and the NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

“We determined that while the experimental procedures in question were within generally accepted research practices, they exceeded some parameters of what was previously approved by USC; therefore, modifications to the research protocol were mandated and additional oversight will be required if and when the faculty member wishes to resume the project,” university spokesman Jeff Stensland said in a statement.

According to the emails, the university received an anonymous report concerning animal use in the experiments on Nov. 28, 2022. On Dec. 8, USC sent a report to the NIH saying an internal investigation had found six rats had been shocked “at a higher amperage and for a longer duration” than had been approved.

Staff from the university’s Department of Laboratory Animal Resources found no injuries on the animals before or after the anonymous report, according to the emails.

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