Perestroika Comes None Too Soon

Mikhail Gorbachev’s push to improve health care in the Soviet Union has led the Soviets to the doorstep of a small firm in Falmouth, Mass. Called Associates on Cape Cod, the venture was founded in 1974 by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution microbiologist Stanley Watson and pioneered the commercial use of a substance derived from the blood of horseshoe crabs—limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL)—to test for pyrogens in drugs. The new procedure was cheaper and faster than the traditional rabbit test, but the Soviets had yet to pull even rabbits out of their hats.

On a visit to the USSR last year, Thomas Novitsky, vice president and director of research for Associates on Cape Cod, asked the Soviets how many rabbit tests they currently conducted. None, they replied. Incredulous, Novitsky asked what they did instead. He claims to have been told that new batches of drugs are...

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