If You Think that Animal Experiments are Essential...

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If You Think that Animal Experiments are Essential...

By Stephen Motson

The simple fact is that animals not only respond in different ways to other animals, but also in different and contradictory ways to people. Animal experiments are not a help but a hindrance to medical research.

The idea behind animal experimentation (vivisection) is that if a new drug or medical procedure is tested on an animal, such as a mouse, rat, cat, dog, or whatever, then the results of such an experiment would give us an indication on the effects of that drug or substance on a human patient. We would be given an indication of its effectiveness (how well it works); its possible side-effects (how much harm it is likely to cause); as well as its toxicity (how poisonous the drug or substance is likely to be); right?...WRONG

The simple fact is that animals not only respond in different ways to other animals, but also in different and contradictory ways to people. Animal experiments are not a help but a hindrance to medical research. If a new drug or procedure is found to be beneficial to an animal, say a rat, it would only be beneficial for other rats and cannot be readily transferred onto other species. Any vet would tell you that most medicines we readily take could have a catastrophic, even fatal, effect if given to a pet. In the same way, it would be unwise for us to take a drug intended for a pet dog, cat, or budgerigar. Besides which, people do not suffer from the same diseases or illnesses that animals suffer, and vice-versa. The idea that we can simulate human ills in animals (which animals would not normally suffer from), create a drug to cure this artificial illness, THEN pass it on to humans as a safe and reliable cure, is totally absurd.

For instance, research into Multiple Sclerosis (which doesn't normally affect animals) is simulated in a laboratory by injecting fluids into laboratory animals so that it appears as if the animal has developed MS. The researchers would then attempt to find a cure for this simulated disease (which occurred as the result of a fluid being injected into the laboratory animal, and not the disease itself) by feeding them with various substances or drugs. If the researchers were successful and managed to alleviate the symptoms in the laboratory animals what would it show? Years of meaningless experiments, costing millions of pounds, and effecting thousands of MS sufferers' lives, would have been wasted. The only apparent benefit being that the researchers in question would be guaranteed many years of work and wages, foolishly following one another up the same blind alley we call medical research. Incidentally, the research discussed, using the exact same procedures, is still going on today, and has been for many decades! Is it any wonder why we are no nearer to finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis? It is this foolish reliance on animal experimentation that has seriously retarded medical research in all fields.

EFFECTIVENESS

So how effective are drugs and medical procedures which have been tested on animals (how well do they work)? The simple answer is that animal experiments are a very unreliable indicator of effectiveness in people. Take the case of the TB vaccine which proved effective in chimpanzees, but was later withdrawn after it was shown that it actually caused TB in people; or Urethane, a drug used to treat leukemia, (which had undergone years of rigorous tests and experiments on a host of different types and species of animals), proving to be safe and effective, but was later withdrawn after it had shown to cause cancer of the liver, lungs, and bone-marrow in people. Barbiturates (i.e., Nembutomol) were prescribed to prevent insomnia, but actually caused insomnia; or take the case of the heart-drug Epinepherine which caused the death of 852 heart patients in New York City in late 1982 and early 1983. Even though the physician in charge of the investigation stated that he was unable to discover a single surviving case among the 852 patients who were injected with this drug, Epinepherine was still not withdrawn from the market! The fact that rigorous animal experiments had passed all of these drugs as an effective treatment or cure for people (and there are thousands of other instances similar to the ones mentioned) demonstrates that animal experiments are not a reliable measure of assessing the effectiveness of any new substance or drug. If anything, they highlight the danger of using animals as an indicator of effectiveness. On this basis alone, it is clear that all experiments on animals should be stopped. Unfortunately there is worse to come.

SIDE EFFECTS

Side effects of drugs, passed as safe by animal experiments, have caused death, cancer, blindness, paralysis, psychosis (often leading to suicide) and a host of other disasters. As far as the predictability of possible side-effects (how much harm it is likely to cause people), experiments on animals have shown to be totally useless, if not extremely dangerous.

After 3 years of rigorous animal experiments, torturing and killing many thousands of animals, Thalidomide was passed as totally safe for humans. Thalidomide was prescribed for pregnant women as an anti-nausea drug (morning sickness). The makers of the drug described it as "the best tranquilliser for pregnant women as (based on the results of experiments on animals) it damaged neither the mother nor the child". The side-effects of this drug were horrendous: over 10,000 children worldwide were born horrifically deformed: many were born without limbs; many were born with their hands attached to their elbows (forearms missing); others were born with their feet attached to their knees (lower-legs missing); others had both forearms and lower legs missing. Others still, were born with deformities that were so grotesque that only their torso and head could be recognised as belonging to a human being.

Even after the consequences of the drug had been established (which was too late for the thousands of children and their families) the manufacturers of the drug, Distillers, showed little remorse and instead decided to market the drug under a different name! As often happens in such cases, the Health Authorities voiced no objection. When Thalidomide was eventually withdrawn, the animal researchers again ran their pathetic tests, experimenting on many thousands of pregnant animals (even though it had already been established that Thalidomide caused birth deformities in people), using many hundreds of different types and species of animals. After some years the researchers did finally manage to find birth deformities - in 2 types of rabbits (although over 150 different types of rabbits were used), and in one type of monkey (out of the many different types of monkeys and apes experimented on)!

Stilboestril (a synthetic oestrogen) was ‘successfully’ tested on animals for years. Stilboestril created a new type of cancer (Vaginal Cancer) in the daughters of the mothers who had been prescribed this "miracle drug"; BUT, the cancer only manifested itself when the daughters were aged between 14 and 22. Once again, experiments on animals had failed to predict this. Isprotenenol killed approximately 3,500 asthma sufferers in the 1960's. Phenformin (prescribed for diabetics) was withdrawn after 18 years as it had caused around 1,000 deaths annually. Clofibrate (for the prevention of heart-attacks) was banned after it had been clinically proven that it did not reduce heart-attacks, but instead caused death by cancer: mostly of the liver, gall-bladder, and intestines. Oxychinol (also called Clioquinol) was alleged to cure an upset stomach. It was originally marketed in Japan under 168 different brand names and was responsible for creating yet another new type of disease: SMON (a severe disease of the nervous system). Oxychinol/Clioquinol caused over 1,000 deaths in Japan, as well as over 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis. A twist in the tale was that some of the animals tested (they were force-fed the drug) died a painful death. The makers of the drug, Ciba-Geighy, decided that these deaths were ‘insignificant’ and, as a matter of precaution, put a note on the leaflet accompanying the drug stating that Clioquinol should not be given to house pets!

After the catastrophic side-effects of the drug had been realised, Ciba-Geighy held a press conference and defended the placing of the drug onto the market-place, despite the painful deaths experienced by an 'insignificant' amount of the animals, by declaring that they had "regarded the animal tests as valueless"! Ciba-Geighy went on to say that "95% of drugs tested on animals fail when given to healthy volunteers and human patients"!

There are many tens of thousands of other instances of drugs and substances which had been passed safe by experiments on animals, but had caused untold damage, death and disease, all over the world. Animal experiments have demonstrated time and time again that they are completely useless and have shown just how foolish it is to transfer their results onto people: their predictive validity is bordering on the ridiculous. Animals are totally different from people; different types and species of animals will show up quite different (if any) side effects. The results obtained from animal experiments are so unreliable and so unpredictable that, as far as giving even a slight indication of possible side-effects (some of which may be inevitably fatal), experimenting on animals is an absolutely senseless practice which has proven, and is still proving, highly dangerous and unpredictable.

After the Thalidomide tragedy, safeguards were put in place by the government to the effect that every new drug or medical procedure had to be sufficiently tested for tetragenic effects (their likelihood to cause birth deformities). Most researchers took this to mean that all new drugs must be thoroughly tested on pregnant animals: since then, birth deformities have increased dramatically.

TOXICITY/POISONS

So how effective are animal experiments at predicting the toxicity level of a drug (how dangerous/poisonous is the drug or substance likely to be?) Unfortunately (if that's the right word to use) animals are so different to one another that what may be poisonous to one species, may actually be very healthy for another. It therefore stands to reason that if a drug is demonstrated to be non-toxic in a laboratory animal, it may not be non-toxic for people: in fact it may be highly poisonous! If the results obtained from animal experiments were a reliable indicator of toxicity, then we could assume that strychnine, for example, (which is highly poisonous for people, causing a slow, painful, death) is not poisonous, and therefore perfectly safe: it causes no ill-effects in several different species of laboratory animals, including mice and chimpanzees. We could also assume that arsenic (again highly poisonous) is perfectly safe: some animals can munch on it all day long without any adverse reactions; and the same can be said for cyanide. What about Amanita Phalloides (a type of mushroom) which is eaten as a health-food by rabbits, yet a single dose could wipe out an entire human family. Or consider Scopolamin: just 2 grams can be fatal for any healthy person, yet dogs and cats can eat hundreds of times that amount without any kind of bad reaction.

If Strychnine was passed as safe in laboratory animals, would you willingly take it? What about the harmless mushroom? Any reasonably intelligent person would not take a substance solely on the basis that experiments on animals had proved them non-poisonous and therefore, safe.

What then if a substance had been shown to be poisonous to laboratory animals, would it be poisonous to humans? Maybe, maybe not. For instance, almonds are highly poisonous to some animals; Digitalis (the world's most successful heart drug, which has saved countless lives all over the world) was delayed for many years because it was first tested in dogs, in which it dangerously raised blood pressure (the last thing that anybody with heart trouble would want); Penicillin killed every single animal it was administered to (rabbits and cats) before it was given to a terminally ill human patient (who lived, incidentally). Even after this stage Penicillin needed further purification. In those days the guinea-pig was the favourite tool of the animal researcher. However, there were no guinea pigs available in the laboratory (they had all been used up in previous experiments), so mice were used instead. Florey, the man who purified Penicillin, later remarked that it was "most fortunate" that penicillin had not been tested on guinea-pigs: it is a lethal poison.

It has further been demonstrated (through medical historians) that therapeutic disasters, which are steadily on the increase today, did not exist before the imposition of safety tests (toxicity tests) on animals. Take Eraldin (a cardiotonic), for example, which turned out to be highly poisonous to people; causing damage to eyes, digestive tract, and ultimately, death, despite undergoing 7 years of "very intensive” laboratory tests on animals; or Orabilex, again passed safe in toxicity tests on animals, but when administered to people it caused kidney damage and death. Again there a numerous instances where drugs passed safe by animal experiments have proved highly (even fatally) poisonous to people; and drugs classified as dangerously poisonous to laboratory animals have turned out to be of great benefit (even life-saving) to an uncountable number of people. This once again, as far as toxicity testing is concerned, confirms that the results obtained from experiments on animals cannot be applied to people. If a substance or drug was demonstrably poisonous to an animal, it may or may not be poisonous to a person; if a substance or drug was shown to be totally safe to an animal, it may prove (as we have seen) to be highly poisonous to a man, woman, boy, or girl: we simply do not know. It is absolutely impossible to tell if a substance or drug would be dangerous to people, simply by testing it in laboratory animals.

It has been demonstrated that animals are so different from people that it is impossible to assess the effectiveness, side-effects, or level of toxicity of any drug or substance in laboratory animals, and then transfer that onto people.

ALTERNATIVES TO ANIMALS

Those who defend animal experimentation claim that, despite all of their obvious faults, flaws, misleading results, and human tragedies, animal experiments are essential because there are no alternatives to using animals in medical research.

The term "alternatives" is a misleading one. It implies that animal research is a highly plausible option and that any other option is secondary. This of course is nonsense. Animal research is not highly plausible; it's not even remotely plausible and should not even be an option which should be considered. The danger involved in relying on experiments on animals is so obvious to anybody of even the slightest intelligence.

Whichever name you prefer to call it - alternatives to animals; non-animal research; progressive techniques - this is an extremely wide, highly specialised field; much wider than the whole field of animal experimentation. We will briefly take a look at some of these so-called ‘alternative’ methods to demonstrate just what can be done, and what could have been done from the very beginning.

Cell, tissue, and organ cultures: Cultures are available for the study of practically any disease which could be named, and in a far greater quantity than is ever needed. They can be prepared from any part of the body, i.e., heart, kidney, brain, liver, nerves, skin, and are grown in a culture dish and covered with a liquid which "feeds" them (in fact any organ can be kept alive in this way). Drugs and substances can then be tested on the culture with remarkable speed (100s, perhaps 1000s of times quicker than testing the same drug or substance on an animal), and with incredible accuracy (since the culture is a human culture, the results obtained are directly applicable to humans and are therefore extremely reliable).

Cultures are already used widely in medical research to study infections; find out more about how certain drugs work (their effectiveness), and to study the effect of drugs or substances in human bodies (toxicity/possible side-effects). They are of particular value in immunology (immune system of the body) and toxicology (how poisonous a drug or substance is likely to be in a human), as well as cancerology, endocrinology, genetics, pathology (the study of disease), pharmacology (drugs), virology (viruses), radiobiology (effects of radiation), and tetratology (the study of fetus malformation: or "will children be born deformed?").

For an example: research into arthritis is currently being performed by injecting fluid into the joints of laboratory animals (a similar procedure to research into Multiple Sclerosis). This is an utterly stupid method as arthritis is not caused by people having fluids injected into their joints. This could be more plausibly studied (with a view to curing it) by the examination of arthritic cartilage (which is normally removed from patients following injury cases that require the joint to be surgically opened so that corrections can be made; or from people who have died in accidents), which can be kept alive in a laboratory for several weeks and its reactions to various drugs or substances can be observed. The growing number of organisations who have used cell, organ, or tissue cultures have found them infinitely more useful, adaptable, and reliable, than animal experiments.

Computer Technology: Computers can be used to test drugs or substances by mimicking the functions of internal organs on disease (i.e., heart, kidney, liver, brain), diagnosis, crash and growth studies. Using combined techniques of spectrometry and chromotography, computers can detect minute traces of drugs and their breakdown in people. This allows us to study how the human body will react to these minute traces and show the potential damage or benefit which the drug or substance would have on a person (these traces are so minute that there is never any danger to the patient). This technique allows us, without error, to study the metabolism of a drug in a man/woman without any damage to him/her, rather than in another species which would give ambiguous, unreliable answers.

Since nearly all new drugs are merely made up of substances found in other drugs, and the effects (whether harmful or beneficial) are already known, cheap and speedy predictions about the consequences any drug to patients can be obtained with the use of computers. The computer will, within seconds, make a statistical prediction on the effects of the drug or substance on a person. This could further be tested on an organ or cell culture, giving researchers and doctors a much better idea of what the effect of the drug or substance would have on a human body than if it was tested on an entirely different species.

Clinical Studies: By far the vast majority of all medical discoveries have been made by clinical observations (studying people). In fact, clinical studies and postmortem examinations account for virtually all of the medical, surgical, and diagnostic breakthroughs that have ever been made. In the last forty years an enormous amount of evidence has been accumulated by doctors studying people. Today we know how four out of five cancers are caused and how most cases of heart disease have developed. Properly used, this knowledge would prevent millions from unnecessary pain, suffering, and death. Simply by observing healthy people and patients carefully, the information gleaned could be used to effectively combat diseases.

Only a handful of "progressive techniques" have been mentioned here, but there are many, many more which could have been. Each is far quicker and far more reliable, accurate, and potentially life-saving than performing experiments on animals. If vivisection had been outlawed from the start (which it should have because it has never been an acceptable option), all of these progressive techniques would have been developed and adopted much sooner, benefiting medical science incalculably. We would also have been spared the countless tragedies of which animal research must be held solely responsible.

WHY ANIMAL EXPERIMENTS CONTINUE

If animal experiments are so dangerous, misleading, and totally unreliable, why are they relied on so heavily today? One possible reason is that it is because they are so unreliable, and that different species will react in different ways to different substances, that experiments on animals are favoured by researchers. Drugs are constantly being released which have caused cancer, paralysis, blindness or death, to laboratory animals. This is of apparently no concern to the drug manufacturers in their attempt to get their product onto the shelves of the chemist, as long as they can discover a species, or type, of animal which has shown no visible signs or ill-effect when force-fed with the substance or drug. If the drug had subsequently caused serious damage to people, then they (the drug manufacturers) could argue that all of the necessary safety tests had been carried out on say, rabbits, cats, dogs, mice, or whatever type of animal had "proved" that the drug was harmless (this is called "covering one's own hide"). Medical history has borne out the fact that drugs, passed as harmless by animal tests, have caused cancer, paralysis, blindness, death, etc., in people. Most of these unfortunate victims (or their bereaved families) who have tried to sue the drugs company responsible for manufacturing a potentially harmful substance have found it extremely difficult (almost impossible) to win their case in a court of law: the drug manufacturers would have "covered their own hides" and found a type or species of animal that had suffered no apparent ill-effect from the substance in question, hence they could claim that the substance or drug had been sufficiently tested and had proven "totally safe" in laboratory animals (and therefore safe for people). Those who carry out, and support, animal experimentation are, quite literally, getting away with murder.

Animal experiments are therefore extremely flexible: they can justify the launch of a new product ("experiments on rabbits indicated no side effects..."), or can be rejected and abandoned as irrelevant if anything disastrous should happen when the product is used by people ("we carried out all the relevant safety tests, but animals don't react in the same way as people you know").

Another reason why animal research is portrayed as credible is that, over the years, they have claimed successes which were not their own. The supporters of animal experiments have claimed , for instance, that penicillin was tested in rabbits and cats before being ‘allowed’ to be given to the first human patient; but fail to point out that all of the rabbits and cats in question died as a result of being given the drug. They have claimed that the world's first asthma drug was discovered only through experiments on animals, but fail to mention that the researcher responsible for the discovery was opposed to animal experiments and believed that the results of such experiments could not be applied to people. He instead tested the drugs on himself to cure his asthma which he brought on through his allergic reaction to hamsters. They have claimed that blood transfusions only came about after the discovery of the rhesus factor in experiments on rhesus monkeys, but fail to mention that experiments on animals delayed blood transfusions for over 200 years. Nor do they mention that the rhesus factor was discovered by a New York Doctor in 1939 studying human patients, and published over a year before the experiments on rhesus monkeys had ever began. Anaesthetics (another apparent success of animal experiments) owe nothing to animal research. Morphine, for instance, (known since 1803) was rejected by animal researchers because it caused maniacal excitement in dogs, cats, and mice. Chloroform (a clinical discovery in 1828) was successfully used in the first ever anaesthetised surgical operation, but was later discredited and discarded as an anaesthetic because experiments on animals (dogs, horses, monkeys, goats, cats, & rabbits) had shown chloroform to be useless as an anaesthetic!

There are numerous others which could have been mentioned; in fact, all of the major medical discoveries were discovered without the use of animals, but the supporters of animal experiments later claimed these successes to be the direct result of experiments on animals - probably to add some credibility to their useless line of work which has not advanced, but retarded, medical progress. This is backed up by a number of medical doctors who have gone on record as saying that they “cannot think of a single medical breakthrough that was produced as the result of an animal experiment”.

Other reasons why animal researchers fight so vehemently, or pay others to defend their trade are numerous: Firstly, if they admit that animal experiments are of no value this would make a mockery of their work. Their achievements would be permanently discredited; and their professional lives would have been wasted. Secondly they are reluctant to change their ways: they have been brought up to believe in animal experiments that no amount of evidence or reasoning can cause them to change their minds. Thirdly, they would have to learn new skills: how the human body works (most have no medical qualifications), as well as complex statistical procedures (which at present they lack, nor probably have the intelligence to learn). Most frightening of all, drugs companies have a vested interest in selling drugs (the more drugs they sell, the more money they make). They do not really want diseases to be cured. They make far more money out of temporarily alleviating symptoms than they would if they actually cured diseases; and make nothing at all out of advice which prevents disease. In other words, they have a vested interest in people becoming (and staying) ill.

Ask yourself why animals are still used for research into human cancer, for instance, when other methods have proven to be more speedy and reliable? If a cure was found for cancer tomorrow, it would mean that thousands of researchers and billions of pounds a year would be lost, and the whole of the cancer-research industry would be permanently ruined. Why then, do you think that research into human disease is largely performed by experiments on animals?

If all animal experiments were abolished today then new drugs would have to be tested in a more reliable way. The vast majority of drugs would never be allowed to be used by people since their effects would already be known. Within a few years, the world's largest drugs companies would become bankrupt. Is this then, the real reason why animal experiments continue today: greed? It can’t be because animal experiments are reliable, effective, that they predict side-effects, indicate the poisonous of a drug, and they cannot possibly show how a substance would react if given to a human - they fail on every single one of these counts. It is clear that animal experiments should be abolished immediately.
If animal experiments were stopped today, they would never be brought back and medicine could advance at the same rate the rest of technology is advancing, instead of remaining static in a retarded Pre-Victorian era.

“When animal experiments are finally abolished, doctors and scientists will look back in disbelief and laugh at today's laboratories where animals are used to test new drugs intended for people” (Dr. Vernon Coleman, M. D.).