What is HARLAN ?

Harlan ( formally Harlan Laboratories Inc. ) is one of the world’s largest suppliers of research models ” and “ contract research services “. Its customers include companies, universities and research institutes in the pharmaceutical, biotech, agrochemical, and chemical industries. Harlan’s headquarters are in Indianapolis (IN), U.S., but the company operates in a dozen countries ( Mexico, Canada, U.K., Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Japan, South Korea ).

It now has more than 3000 employees.

That sounds quite good, but what does it mean in practice ? What really are the “research models“? Some could imagine charming women wearing stylish lab coats, some could guess they are sophisticated CAD modeling of math patterns. Unfortunately they are a …… “different stuff”. If you visit Harlan’s official website 1 you’ll find that “research models” is just a technical and bereaucratic way to mean all the various types of animals that are produced to be sold or directly used for the purpose of doing the “animal testing“, i.e. VIVISECTION 2.These laboratory animals are dogs ( the RCC Beagle produced in France and in U.K. ), guinea pigs, harmsters, mice, rabbits, rats . For large animals and in particular non-human Primates see below. Harlan’s second core business is defined as supplying of “contract research services”. In other words Harlan supplies / sales research services ( such as toxicology tests, pharmaceutical research, analytical chemistry services etc. ) to companies who operate their business in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. As a matter of fact many of these companies prefer to outsource the research activity – that previously was carried out internally – to an indipendent organization, usually a deeply experienced one, like the Harlan Laboratories. Harlan provides a wide range of pharmacology studies ( central nervous system, respiratory function, renal and liver function, autonomic nervous system, inflammation, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal pharmacology ).

Besides, at last but not least, Harlan offers many services in disease animal models1 .

What’s that ???

An animal model is a living, non-human animal used during the research and investigation of human disease. Animal models serving in research may have an existing, inbred or induced disease or injury that is similar to a human condition. These test conditions are often termed as animal models of disease3. The disease animal models produced and sold by Harlan include the following areas: Autoimmunity – Diabetes – Tissue repair – Osteoporosis and Bone repair – Tumor models – Metabolic disorders and Obesity models. It seems likely that selling contract research services is quite lucrative and gives a much bigger profit margin than that deriving from the mere sale of bred animals.

It was no accident that in 2004 Harlan acquired RCC Ltd. ( Itingen, Switzerland) just to expand contract research services for the pharmaceutical, chemical and agrochemical industries in Europe and Asia 1 .

Generally speaking, a significant portion of R&D budgets are used for outsourcing services (domestic and/or international) offered by the CRO industry, approximately $15 billion in 2007. This figure is expected to grow at 15% over the next seven years and should increase further with the broadening of the spectrum of services outsourced to cover the entire value chain4, above all in the pharmaceutical industry.

In other words, many manufactures actually hire an outside company to do the animal testing for them and they just buy some “clean” results !

Summig up, Harlan Laboratories gain a huge profit by:

  1. selling live animals

  2. selling the results of laboratory experiments they carry out on live animals.

Harlan was founded in 1931 in Indianapolis by Howard P. Harlan. At the beginning Mr. Harlan expanded his business throughout the Midwest and after his death the company has grown steadly through acquisitions of domestic and international firms.

In 1985 the company became an international corporation with the purchase of Olac Limited Oxfordshire (England) to supply models in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Israel.

The international expansion continued in the ’90s with several operations estabilished in Italy, U.K., Germany, Spain, Israel.

In 2005 a radical change happened: Genstar Capital, a private equity firm, acquired Harlan as a company in a growing, vital industry with continued growth opportunities1. Three years later Genstar shortened the company’s name from Harlan Sprague Dawley to Harlan Laboratories.

In 2008 the company expanded its roster of services by entering into a marketing partnership with the notorious Primate Products Inc.,a supplier of Primates and Primate equipment.

The partnership gave Harlan’s clients the ability to purchase Primates from multiple sources of origin and expanded Harlan’s contract quarantine and long term holding services5.

Primate Products Inc. is a firm specialized in importing Primates from around the world and selling them to researchers and vivisection laboratories6.

If you want to watch the video broadcasted by nbcmiami in 2010 click here:

link ( warning : some images are really cruel ! ).

HARLAN in Italy

Italy has been a fundamental step in the internationalization process that the company has been pursuing over the past three decades.

Harlan was first established in Italy in 1993. Nowadays there are three facilities: the first one is located at San Pietro al Natisone, 20 km. far from Udine ( the headquarters are also here ); the two local units are situated at Correzzana ( province of Monza e Brianza, Lombardy ) and at Bresso (province of Milan, Lombardy).

The company has about 90 employees on average (2010) and these are the key annual numbers from its balance sheet and income statement (as of 2009 and 2010, last data available )7:



Revenues €

9 million 753 thousand

10 million 617 thousand

Net Profit €

870 thousand

772 thousand

The explanatory notes to the financial statements closed at 31/12/2010 specify that:

  • The revenues coming from the sales of “home made” animals amount to € 5 million 156 thousand.

    Just to have a clue about the huge number of live animals that are bred and sold, here there is a fictitious example.

    To get € 5 million annual revenues implies to sell:



    Price per unit


    25 000




    2 500

    2 000



    100 000


Every year a whole population is produced / sold / tested / destroyed !

  • Purchases for resale total about € 2 million.

  • The increase in sales of commercialized ( = purchased and sold ) animals is mainly due to the sales of large animals .

  • The variation in stocks ( decrease of about € 200 000 ) is related to the smaller presence of large animals .

  • At Bresso ( Milan ) Harlan has been setting up a breeding facility for transgenic animals,

    investing more than € 320,000.

The objects for which the Company ( Harlan S.r.l. ) is established include ” the industrial breeding, the artificial selection and the commercialization of animals for the biomediacal research; the execution and the commercialization of laboratory and screening tests carried out on both our own animals and those of a third party ; the commercialization of products that are used by people working within the research industry ( cages, litters, blood and blood derivatives, organs, carcasses etc. )”.

No limitation has been placed to the type of animals that can be commercialized or used for testing.

From this point of view the Macaques’ affair is quite significant.

Macaques are a genus belonging to the ordo Primates. In 2011 Harlan imported in Italy 312 specimens of Primates for testing purposes7. This year the company applied for the import licence of 900 more Primates. On February 21, with an Air China flight, the first 104 specimens belonging to the genus Macaca arrived to Italy coming from China and the Mascarene islands and were transferred to the laboratories situated at Correzzana. As a consequence of the widespread protests organized by some animal rights groups and supported by many citizens and a few political figures, D. Broken, President of the Harlan Laboratories, declared that no more macaques for laboratory testing would arrive to the Correzzana plant and the 104 specimens which were already hold within it would not be delivered to the pharmaceutical company that intended to use them for “scientific” purposes.

After the quarantine, some news on the macaques was expected. But it has been a vain hope: days, weeks, months have passed and even now we know nothing about these wonderful animals .

Everything is dead silent !

1www.harlan.com – official website (2012 feb-mar)

2 Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 gives this definition: «Vivisection : operation on a living animal for experimental rather than healing purposes; more broadly, all experimentation on live animals.»

4New Research offers CRO market snapshot, Kirsty Barnes, Outsourcing-Pharma, November 22, 2007

5Company description in Hoover’s Report 2012 Feb .

7Online Official Companies Register of the Chambers of Commerce (CCIAA)

7Italian Ministry of Health, statement # 44, 2012 ).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: