Today’s release of Cochlear Ltd’s annual report shows their revenue is up by 15% and earnings per share up by 56%. The announcement may well excite those investors keen to see an increase in value of their share portfolio, but at what cost has this profit been?
Cochlear Ltd has recently been the subject of media attention concerning their involvement with research into the effects of cochlear implants. The research involves rendering cats profoundly deaf, performing craniotomies, conducting recordings using microelectrodes and then killing them.
Research into the alleviation of deafness (and blindness) is of course a credible and worthwhile endeavour, however the use of a different species for this research – in this case cats – is highly questionable. It is becoming increasingly acknowledged that animals are poorly predictive of human outcomes and are therefore not good models on which to base scientific research.
Within a recent publication the researchers themselves refer to the significant differences between even cats and rabbits, and note that the use of anaesthetised cats has profound effects on the relevance and utility of the experiment.
The international condemnation of the dentist who killed Cecil the lion suggests that financial profit does not justify the killing of a sentient animal. What of other animals – in this case 16 young cats deafened and killed.
It is disappointing that Cochlear Ltd invests in such unethical and unscientific experiments instead of innovative technology and research that is directly relevant to the species (humans) it is purported to benefit and shareholders would do well to object to their investments used in such a way.
 Fallon, J.B., Shepherd, R.K., Nayagam, D.A.X., Wise, A.K., Heffer, L.F., Landry, T.G., and Irvine, D.R.F. ‘Effects of deafness and cochlear implant use on temporal response characteristics in cat primary auditory cortex’. Hearing Research. 2014