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A growing shortage of monkeys used for early-stage pharmaceutical research is causing concern that many companies will soon face costly delays starting clinical trials — leading to a slowdown in drug development.

In recent weeks, the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service began denying company requests to import long-tailed macaques from Cambodia in the wake of a federal investigation into a smuggling ring. Meanwhile, the cost of these monkeys, when they can be obtained, has jumped to more than $25,000 each, compared with $10,000 or less three years ago.


Consequently, drug developers expect it to become more difficult to start toxicology studies needed to ensure a nascent treatment will be safe in humans, since these non-human primates are generally the preferred species for conducting such litmus tests. And the specter of delays is being increasingly tracked on Wall Street, where investors are apprehensive about long-term implications.

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