Animal Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions
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Animal Experimentation - Frequently Asked Questions

Would drugs be safe for us without being tested first on animals?
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Yes. Drugs would be just as safe and probably safer than they now are if the animal testing phase was eliminated. Presently, legal drugs kill more people per year than all illegal drugs combined.

It is first important to recognize that drugs do not spring from lab animal to bottle. There are four methods of designing drugs. Scientists begin by one of the following methods:

  • Discovering new substances from nature
  • Uncovering a different curative value in an existing medication
  • Modifying the chemical structure of a similar medication
  • Designing a new medication from scratch based on anticipated chemical reactions

Once researchers have theorized about a substance's usefulness, they administer it to animals to see whether or not it works on them. They obtain plenty of feedback about the substance's effectiveness in the species tested. Positive animal results are reported in the popular press, generally mentioning only scantly the huge unbuilt bridge between lab animal results and human cures. At this stage there is still no reliable information about what the substance will do in humans, because our metabolism is unique.

Though subjecting the substances to animal testing is designed to reveal anticipated effects and side effects in humans, very often the results differ dramatically between species. Substances that could save many human lives are not approved because they are harmful to animals. And substances that are therapeutic in animals get approved, then harm and sometimes kill humans. Instead of safeguarding human consumers, animal testing creates a false sense of security.

The proof of this is apparent in any thorough assessment of drug development history. Numerous of our most popular drugs including aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), can be quite detrimental to animals. Diuretic medications, a mainstay in the treatment of hypertension, were in common use before animal testing became the rage. Many of these drugs, safely used by millions, would be hard pressed to pass today's mandatory mouse tests.

There is justifiable concern that animal tests are preventing us from acquiring much- needed medications, one scientist stating:

...for the great majority of disease entities, the animal models either do not exist or are really very poor. The chance is of overlooking useful drugs because they do not give a response to the animal models commonly used.

Innumerable animal-tested drugs make it to market, and then cause problems. It is well accepted that approximately 100,000 deaths per year from legal drugs, and approximately fifteen per cent of all hospital admissions are caused by adverse medication reactions. In one decade more than half of all newly approved medications were either withdrawn or relabeled by the FDA secondary to severe unpredicted side effects. All of these drugs had undergone extensive animal testing!

Clearly, the animal testing protocol works against human safety. It also diverts valuable research dollars away from solid human-based testing methodologies.

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