How do Animals Play a Role in Drug Testing?

Drug Testing

Much controversy has been debated regarding this topic; animals have been used repeatedly throughout history for testing – dating back to B.C. According to a 2010 study conducted by researchers from Virginia, animal testing has been used in areas of biology, pathophysiology, clinical treatments, and drug screening for abuse liability. Rodents and other non-human primates such as cats and dogs have been utilized for research, with intravenous and oral routes of administration being used for drugs like cocaine, heroin, nicotine, and more; this has been used to understand, explore, and explain how humans are impacted by these drugs.

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) argues that there is a problem with this, however; several decades have shown that animals respond differently and unpredictably compared to humans, making any scientific research using them invalidated and causing unnecessary suffering, distress, and death. Most animals used for research are not given anesthesia or analgesics, causing them extreme pain. The organization states that just for one substance to be evaluated, up to 800 may be tested and more than $6 billion spent.

Cruelty Free International states 115 million animals are used each year in drug testing, and 90% of drugs fail in human trials despite “promising” results in animal tests. In 1959, William Russell and Rex Burch proposed the “3Rs”: restrict the use of animals, refine experiments to minimize stress, and replace tests with alternative techniques. These have gained some traction throughout the years, but BBC notes that many places are still not employing these standards. What is being done about this issue?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) argues that drug testing on animals is still needed and that more research is being conducted to determine how to reduce the testing of animals, but many are taking matters into their own hands. Petitions have been created on that you can sign – the more signatures against this harmful activity, the greater the likelihood that our policy makers will make the change.

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