Time to rethink the way we use animals to test pharmaceuticals | Editorial

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WASHINGTON – Every now and then a hint of sanity seeps through the barricade of national madness.

Last week, a handful of bipartisan lawmakers introduced two bills aimed at ending one of our country’s most barbaric practices – mandatory animal testing of new pharmaceuticals for human testing.

It’s been a while since I clicked in the air, double-tailed, but I managed a reasonable facsimile upon hearing this news. The Senate FDA Modernization Act and House HR 2565 have paved the way for a revolutionary initiative to end animal suffering while advancing drug development faster and more efficiently.

In part, the measures are a result of lessons learned during the development of the coronavirus vaccine: we don’t need to wait that long to develop human therapies if we get around some of the archaic demands of outdated laws, especially a law of the dead. 1930s which required animal testing before testing on humans. When the pandemic demanded swift action on a vaccine, the Food and Drug Administration worked with government officials and drug companies to create life-saving drugs in record time. This happened because Moderna and Pfizer were allowed to run animal testing and early human testing at the same time, rather than completing separate animal testing first.

The best reason to stop using animals in drug testing is the fact that animals don’t respond to drugs the same way humans do. (If they did, we might as well go to vets for our injections.) While the use of animals in science and medicine has benefited humans, there is significant evidence that ” Human subjects have been injured in clinical trials of drugs that have been found safe by animal studies, ”as Gail A. Van Norman wrote in the journal JACC: Basic to Translational Science.

Alarmingly, adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease. It doesn’t seem to me that the use of animals – normally mice and monkeys – is worth the cost of the cruelty we pay for our health.

In addition, other means of conducting research are available and already in use. The first is a technique that performs a procedure in a controlled environment outside of a living organism, which sounds much better than the alternative.

Such tests are already in use and usually involve tests or experiments performed on computers or via computer simulation. This method is also used in studies that predict how drugs interact with the body and with pathogens.

Nonetheless, pharmaceutical companies and the scientific community are likely to oppose this initiative, just as they have in years past, if only because they do not want to change the way they do business. Several important animal rights victories, including President Trump’s ban on the use of dogs in experiments, worry some companies and many scientists about the future of such research.

Cultural trends also seem to suggest that public opinion is changing on animal research. A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that a slight majority of Americans (52%) oppose animal testing. But it is not without exceptions: when asked about the genetic engineering of animals, the numbers turn to the survival of our species over others. For example, only 21% believe that engineering aquarium fish to glow is an appropriate use of technology, while 57% approve of the use of animals to grow organs and tissues for humans. needing a transplant.

While there does not appear to be any significant partisan alignment, there is evidence that support for animal testing increases with education. Americans with postgraduate degrees are more supportive of animal experimentation because theoretically they’ve probably been more exposed to science. The less educated are more often opposed to animal testing.

Yet some members of the scientific community are concerned about the future of animal research. Ken Gordon, executive director of a Seattle-based biomedical research firm, has followed U.S. attitudes toward animal research using 17 years of Gallup polls.

By extrapolating, he predicts that the portion of the public who find animal testing “morally objectionable” will overtake the portion who find it “morally acceptable” within the next two to three years.

When that happens, he said, “the funding will dry up and our work will become much more difficult.”

This is probably an exaggeration. I would like to think that science and human research can coexist. Much of what we do in research today is due to the way we have always done it – since the 4th century BC, when Aristotle was performing animal experiments to learn more about anatomy. . Several millennia later, it’s time to free our animal hostages and our best angels – and put technology at its best and its best use. Plus, given what we know, it makes sense.


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