The most famous example of the dangers of animal testing is the Thalidomide tragedy of the 1960s and 1970s. Thalidomide, which came out on the German
market late in the 1950s, had previously been safety tested on thousands of animals. It was marketed as a wonderful sedative for pregnant or
breastfeeding mothers and it supposedly caused no harm to either mother or child. Despite this "safety testing", at least 10,000 children whose
mothers had taken Thalidomide were born throughout the world with severe deformities.
Clioquinol is another example of a drug that was safety tested in animals and had a severely negative impact on humans. This drug, manufactured in
Japan in the 1970s, was marketed as providing safe relief from diarrhea. Not only did Clioquinol not work in humans, it actually caused diarrhea. As a
result of Clioquinol being administered to the public, some 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis and thousands of deaths occurred.
Are these two examples just isolated cases? Even though pharmaceuticals are routinely tested on animals, the Journal of the American Medical
Association reported that 100,000 people every year are killed and more than 2 million are hospitalized as a result of prescription drugs used as
prescribed. The British Medical Journal recently reported that 4 out of every 10 patients who take a prescribed drug can expect to suffer severe or
noticeable side effects, while numerous clinical observers agree that the incidence of iatrogenesis (medically induced disease) is now so great that
approximately 1 in every 10 hospital beds is occupied by a patient who has been made ill by their doctor.
"Giving cancer to laboratory animals has not and will not help us to understand the disease or to treat those persons suffering from it."
- Dr. A. Sabin, 1986, developer of the oral polio vaccine
Clearly, if we are going to make medical progress, a new approach is needed. Human medicine can no longer be based on veterinary medicine. It is
fraudulent and dangerous to apply data from one species to another. There are endless examples of the differences between humans and non-human
PCP is a sedative for chimps
Penicillin kills cats and guinea pigs but has saved many human lives.
Arsenic is not poisonous to rats, mice, or sheep.
Morphine is a sedative for humans but is a stimulant for cats, goats, and horses.
Digitalis while dangerously raising blood pressure in dogs continues to save countless cardiac patients by lowering heart rate.
The National Institutes of Health alone pours well over five billion dollars annually into superfluous animal experimentation. Abolishing animal
research will mean these resources could be redirected into prevention and the types of research which actually have a chance of advancing human
medicine and human health.
Epidemiological studies led to the discoveries of the relationship between smoking and cancer and to the identification of heart disease risk factors,
not animal experimentation. Conversely, tobacco company executives relied on misleading animal-based studies to deny the link between smoking and
cancer as recently as 1994.
Christopher Anderegg et al., “A Critical Look at Animal Experimentation,” Medical Research Modernization Committee, 2002.
Stanton Glantz, “A Selection of OSHA Comments on Lung Cancer,” Tobacco.org, last accessed 14 May 2009.
Population studies demonstrated the mechanism of the transmission of AIDS and other infectious diseases and also showed how these diseases can be
prevented, whereas animal studies have produced no real results in terms of preventing or treating AIDS.Samuel Baron, M.D., et al., Medical
Microbiology, 4th ed., University of Texas: Churchill Livingstone Inc., 1996.
The National Institutes of Health have reported that more than 80 HIV/AIDS vaccines that have passed animal testing have failed in human clinical
trials.National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Clinical Trials of HIV Vaccines,” National Institutes of Health, 19 Sept. 2008.
As the associate editor of the British Medical Journal stated, “When it comes to testing HIV vaccines, only humans will do.”Alison Tonks, “Quest
for the AIDS Vaccine,” British Medical Journal 334 (2007): 1346-8.
Besides saving countless animal lives, alternatives to animal tests are efficient and reliable. Unlike crude, archaic animal tests, non-animal methods
usually take less time to complete, cost only a fraction of what the animal experiments that they replace cost, and are not plagued with species
differences that make extrapolation difficult or impossible. Effective, affordable, and humane research methods include studies of human populations,
volunteers, and patients as well as sophisticated in vitro, genomic, and computer-modeling techniques.