Biomedical Testing on Animals

April 14, 2017

A dog is approached by a human, the dog is too weak to stand and greet the human who wants to help her.  Libby is a dog who has solely been identified by the number marked on her ear her whole life. Scientists have rotted her teeth, given her worms, and infections to test new medications that hardly ever work. Libby has been poked, tortured, starved, unloved, and used as an experiment in a hellhole known as Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. An operation that saw workers kick, throw, beat, and hold dogs by merely the skin on their necks as they infested their bodies with ticks, fleas, worms, and bacteria so they could rub chemicals on their skin and force new medical combinations down their throats. Libby is only one of the over 60,000 dogs put through this unnecessary and ineffective testing process in the United States each year. Animal testing is cruel, unnecessary, ineffective, and should be outlawed in the Unites States and the world.

The United States spends up to $14.5 billion on animal testing each year. That is nearly half of the money in the total budget for all animal research, meaning the country could be using this money to study animals and how to preserve different species. This money could also be transferred to help give tax relief and feed starving people in America instead of being wasted on animal testing that is ineffective.

Animal testing is a very expensive type of testing and is much more expensive than in vitro tests which is any test that is done in glass or test tubes in labs. In comparison, in vitro tests are far less expensive than animal testing. For example an estrogen hormone interactions test normally done on rats costs $29,600, but the in vitro version of that test only costs $7,200. Almost every single basic test that is performed on animals can be easily performed in vitro for half the price in some cases. An embryo-toxicity test that is generally done on rats costs the country $50,000 every time they do this test. The in vitro version of this test costs $15,000 which is 70% less. Even very complex important testing is much less expensive when completed in vitro. Including the Non-genotoxic cancer test that is $700,000 when done on a rat, but only $7,200 when done in vitro (“Alternative”). All of these numbers point in a clear direction, that in vitro is better, but cost is not the only thing to consider.
Animal testing takes, not only a lot of money, but time. Animal testing is dealing with a whole organism; therefore it takes a lot of time. First the doctors have to infect the animal with whatever problem that occurs in humans that they are trying to find a medication for, or expose the animal to different chemicals to see if the chemical can be deemed safe. Also since a whole animal is being used it takes a lot longer for the results to clear in several cases. In the case of chemical testing when the tests are done in vitro, hundreds of chemical test results will be available in only a week, where in animal testing it can take up to five years to have the same number of results available. Many tests take much less time when done in vitro instead of animal testing. In a chemical corrosivity test a synthetic skin in vitro test only takes 3 minutes to 4 hours to have completed results from the test. If this test is run on an animal the results will not be completed for 2 to 4 weeks. This time difference can also affect how long it takes for products to hit shelves for purchase. For example sunscreens need to be tested for chemicals and effectiveness before they can be available for purchasing. This is like every other health product. In vitro tests will produce the results for five to six sunscreens in the time that the animal tests will produce the results for one product (“Alternatives”). This is a major setback in medical advances, if researchers converted to in vitro tests the results for medications would be available much faster and those treatments would be saving lives much sooner.

Animal tests are expensive and slow, but they are also extremely inaccurate. Animals are very different from humans and do not reliably predict the results of treatments in the human body. Although animal testing provides a complete model for testing, the model is inaccurate and too different from a human to provide reliable information. Dr. Paul Furlong, a professor at Aston University, while discussing the topic of biomedical testing stated, “It’s very hard to create an animal model that even equates closely to what we are trying to achieve in the human.” (“Should”). An animal model is not close to a human model, but creating an animal model for testing is very difficult and can cause more problems for the researchers. Best stated by Ph. D. Susan Fitzpatrick, president of the James S. McDonnell Foundation, “The biomedical model is failing. Even if we know all there is to know about the animal model we don’t necessarily know about the disease, the model becomes what we study, not the human disease.”(Akhtar). Animal testing causes more problems than solutions for researchers and doctors.

Animal testing has been the reason that scientists have almost passed over large discoveries several times. One example of this is the relationship between glass fibers and cancer. Experiments on rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, monkeys, and baboons revealed no link between glass fibers and cancer. Scientists did not give up on a link between the two things and experiments on humans were conducted. After the human testing was concluded the fibers were labeled carcinogenic meaning that the fibers have the potential to cause cancer in humans, a fact that would have never been discovered through animal testing (“Alternatives”). This is a very common phenomenon, animal testings succeeding and human tests failing or animal tests failing and human tests succeeding. In February of 2013 trials for treatments of inflammatory disease were being tested on mice. The mice trials were highly successful, but when human trials were conducted the treatments failed. All 150 human trials conducted failed severely. The NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni showed the differences of treatments in animals versus humans by saying “We have cured mice of cancer for a decade, it simply didn’t work in humans.” (“Experiments”). These are only a few of several examples of the inability of animal tests to accurately predict the results of treatments in human patients.

The inaccuracy of animal testing puts more human lives in danger than the people who are already sick. An example of this is the drug known as TGN1412. TGN1412 is a biological medicine that passed all medical testing with no major complications and no predicted severe harmful side effects in humans. 6 healthy human volunteers were administered the drug. Only minutes after the drug had been administered the human subjects had severe reactions. The subjects were experiencing multi-organ failure, an extremely severe complication that the animal testings had not even hinted at such a complication was possible. The subjects were rushed to the intensive care unit and thankfully the drugs effects were able to be reversed and the subjects lives were saved (Attarwala). Although the people in this trial were able to survive, some do not see this outcome. There are many cases of animal testing misleading doctors from seeing the real problems within these drugs. One of the worse cases of this misfortune was with the drug Fialuridine. In 1993 this drug was being tested as a treatment of Hepatitis B, the drug had seen promising results in the animal testing and the drug was passed to a human trial. 15 human volunteers were given the medication. All 15 of the subjects were soon hospitalized for liver failure. 5 out of the 15 volunteers died when they could not receive liver transplants in time to save their lives (“Review”). If this drug had been tested in a more accurate way those 5 people would still be alive today. The inaccuracy of animal testing not only costs a lot of money and take a lot of time, it also puts human lives in even more danger.

Human lives are not the only lives put in severe danger by animal testing. Thousands of animals die yearly as a result of animal testing. It is commonly thought that any animals used for animal testing are treated for pain, therefore are not being hurt. The Animal Welfare Act is an act that was set in place to protect animals used in animal testing, and is said to eliminate the pain that animals could endure during testing. This is a very incorrect statement in reality. In reality the Animal Welfare Act does not cover 95% of the animals used in animal testing and it does not make it illegal to cause these animals pain. The Animal Welfare Act allows animals to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, forcibly restrained, addicted to drugs, and brain damaged, all the while no pain treatment is required (“Animal Testing”). Plus the U.S. is the only country in the world that has any type of law to protect animals being used in testing, although the U.S. act in place does not protect any animals from abuse. The scientists conducting these experiments do not even have the decency to euthanize the animals when killing them. In 2016 only 31% of animals being killed after being used for animal testing were euthanized to avoid pain for the animal. Over a thousand primates experience extreme pain during experiments yearly. Almost fifty thousand hamsters experience extreme pain during experiments yearly. These are only two types of animals out of the hundreds that are put through extreme pain yearly.

Not only does animal testing harm animals in the most extreme ways, it is also highly overused. The USDA only has 120 employed inspectors to oversee operations of animal testing for the over 11,000 different facilities in the U.S. that conduct animal testing or animal involved experiments.  In those 11,000 facilities over 60,000 dogs, 200,000 rabbits, 57,000 primates, and 20,000 cats are being infected with diseases and harmed in the most extreme ways (“Experiments”). This is proof of how much animal testing is overused. Using all of these animals is a blatant misuse and irresponsible use of the animals on this planet. The use of all of these animals is also using up the time of scientists when the time of these professionals is needed elsewhere.

Animal testing has been wasting the time of researchers since the beginning. Many people think that if researchers did not execute tests on animals there would be no new discoveries. But this statement is quite the opposite of the truth. Animal testings have caused researchers to shelve potential life saving drugs. For example FK-506, also known as tacrolimus is a drug that reduces the chances of rejection in an organ transplant. This drug was almost shelved and overlooked through animal testing. Tacrolimus was tested on dogs when it was found that the toxicity in the animal was much too high to pass the drug to human trials. Dr. Aysha Akhtar was not willing to let one failed test on a subject much different from the potential receiving patients let the drug be shelved. Against recommendation the drug was put in a human trial with much warning to volunteers of the drug's failure in prior testing. The drug  did not create a toxic environment in the human subjects, the drug was effective and not harmful (Akhtar). With animal testing being how researchers determine if a drug is safe for humans there is no way of knowing how many drugs like tacrolimus have been shelved due to failed animal testing, even though they could currently be saving human lives.

Animals should no longer be used in biomedical testing. Animal testing is inaccurate, cruel, expensive, and an ineffective use of scientists time. Humans are abusing the power that is animals and the beauty and insight that animals provide for humans. At this point in time humans are taking what they want from this world, like animals, and abusing it. The human race has caused a lot of damage to this world already and continuing to use the beautiful gift that is animals for science experiments will cause these amazing creatures to vanish from this planet. Animals are not something to be abused in such ways, if scientists and everyday people continue to abuse animals the world's beauty will continue to decrease until there is nothing left.

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