Each year, hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs are netted and drained of their milky-blue blood. It’s used for medical safety tests that detect bacterial contamination in drugs and implants. According to a recent Reuters article, activists from The National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, and other groups are pressuring the pharmaceutical industry to switch to a synthetic version of the blood, known as recombinant Factor C (rFC).
The news came via an umbrella organization called the Horseshoe Crab Recovery Coalition. The group says the shift to rFC could save 100,000 horseshoe crabs each year, and help threatened migratory birds that feed on crab eggs. However, there are regulatory hurdles for rFC preventing it from being on-par with industry-standard crab blood trials. Only two drugs, both from Eli Lilly, have been approved after rFC endotoxin testing.