A British animal rights activist joined hands with practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine on Monday to call for an end to bear-bile farming, which they say is cruel and unsafe.
The new campaign against the ancient practice targets pharmaceutical companies, such as Kaibao, that make fever suppressants from bile extracted drip by drip from holes punched into the bodies of thousands of caged bears.
This harvesting technique is approved by the Chinese government, but the animal welfare activists have linked up with professors who argue that the product may be harmful to human health and could easily be replaced by safer, more humane alternatives.
Tip: @EdzardErnst on Twitter
Not only is it cruel and horrifying but it is unsafe to use the fluid extracted from the animal in these conditions. It’s difficult to imagine. Even when rescued, the bears most often die. The article does not expand on the efficacy of bear bile as a treatment, just that there are alternatives that are safer. It’s hard to imagine when we can run to the store to buy ibuprofen or acetaminaphen for a few bucks to bring down a fever, some ancient medicine that calls for painfully extracting bodily fluid from a caged animal is still in use.
It is hoped that the attention given to this issue by pharmacies refusing to stock the meds, celebrities and public awareness campaigns can finally end the practice.
For more, see this piece on Science Based Medicine. Warning: it may make you sick and very angry.