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Sacrificing for Pharmaceuticals


The amazing Horseshoe Crab has survived over 400 million years.  And we still don't know much about their mysterious life. 

The pharmaceutical industry has long relied upon the bright blue blood of horseshoe crabs from the Atlantic coast to check for bacterial toxins in injectable drugs including vaccines. The recent push to vaccinate not only people but domestic, farm and wild animals has further depleted this ancient creature’s population.


Horseshoe crabs are caught and then bled of one third of their blood. If they survive the bleeding process, they are returned to their oceanic home. Unfortunately, many have been so weakened in the blood harvesting process that 30% or more do not survive once released.


Why care about horseshoe crabs? These crabs are one of the oldest species on the planet so many animals, especially migratory birds and marine animals, have evolved to rely on them and their eggs as a food source.

The harvesting practice is unnecessary since there is a synthetic alternative to this amazing blood.  The synthetic version has been around since the 1990’s and some say is even better than the original. The man-made product is approved in other countries but not in the US. According to Ryan Phelan, co-founder of Revive & Restore, the leading US manufacturers of blue blood products – Lonza, Charles River Labs and Associates of Cape Cod – are standing in the way of American drugmakers’ adoption of the synthetic alternative. “You have three American companies with a vested interest in supporting an LAL (the coveted content in the bright blue blood), with an undue influence on the USP,” Phelan says.


It seems there is no common sense reason or long term considerations as the industry continues to endanger this pre-historic species to the brink of extinction. Regulations and management haven’t created an increase in the populations. There is a relatively easy solution, stopping harvesting and replace the natural blue blood with the artificial compound. These blue blooded horseshoe crabs would be singing for joy, rather than singing the blues. 

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