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DR. GEBHART (Gerald Gebhart, University of Iowa): Dr. Rowan, regarding your discussion about developing categories of mild, moderate, and severe pain and distress, the issue is going to be who will provide the category. Is it going to be the investigator, the veterinary technician, or the veterinarian? I guess these are issues that have yet to be resolved, but I would like your opinion regarding who should be doing that and how you would define the different categories between mild, moderate, and severe.
DR. ROWAN: I would not even begin to develop the definition. This area is where we believe we need data and a detailed discussion between researchers, laboratory animal care staff, and animal protectionists to develop appropriate guidelines. Although IASP developed guidelines, it did not produce guidelines for categories of mild, moderate, and severe pain. Perhaps it is too ambitious a challenge to expect to produce reasonably clear categories. Nonetheless, some other countries are attempting to establish several categories of pain and distress, and they appear to be able to come to some level of agreement on the systems they use.
I would argue that leaving the development of appropriate categories up to individual institutions would be one way to start, but that there should be some sort of overarching data gathering group that develops some standard measures, once again based on data.
Part of the impetus behind the HSUS initiative is to stimulate a data-based dialogue and argument. I do not want to stand here and say 10% weight loss should classify a procedure under severe pain or distress because 10% weight loss occurs very quickly in a rodent. Perhaps it should be characterized as moderate, or even as mild, distress. Who knows?
We need to engage the issues and learn what people think and why they think it. What is needed is a lot more traditional scientific dialogue, which has underpinned so much of the biomedical progress of the past century.