When animals are used for testing, we inflict severe pain on them, sometimes leading to permanent disability and death.
This brings into the question of should animals be used for research?
I would say we should use them to save humans, but we can explore alternative means.
Using animals for research is a common practice.
They have a living body whose functions and physiology are similar to humans.
Further, they can be trained, induced, or genetically modified to mimic most human disorders and conditions.
Hence, the new drugs with a promise of efficacy in disease treatment are taken up for testing in animals in pre-clinical trials.
These help us to understand any adverse or toxic effects of the drug on the general body functions and avoid them in humans.
But if we see this with human instinct, it is very unacceptable to inflict pain, suffering and even death on animals.
Hence many nations have their own ethical boards and laws to prevent cruelty to animals.
Should Animals be Used for Research
Before we go to conclusions, lets us see few important aspects of drug testing.
Negative traits involved:
- Misuse of animals
- No direct correlation of data in many cases
- Not all medicines can be tested in this method
- Unnecessary use of animals in the name of research.
- Improper treatment
Positive traits involved:
- Record the safety profile of the drug.
- Checking if the drug is effective.
- Ability to test multiple forms of drugs in a short time.
- Minimal cost of drug testing.
Misuse of animals
♦ Animals are misused many a time in drug testing. There are many instances where they were killed because of negligence in giving proper food, water, health support and cleanliness.
♦ A few of them make mistakes in the testing procedure and repeat them on few more fresh animals.
♦ If the researcher is well planned and informed, he could avoid it. It is quite common that drugs are tested on animals in a hurry or, with incomplete planning, sacrificed.
♦ When they discover some error, they repeat the whole procedure in another set of experiments.
Unnecessary use of animals
Many scientists and academicians publish many scientific papers as part of the career.
They use animals for the sake of experiments to gain a publication to enhance their career.
Their work, in most cases, is just a waste except to get publications and improve their academic scores.
They perform all sorts of experiments regardless of the benefit to society.
Their own motto is to get a scientific publication and career-based incentives. But by no means do they add value to society at large.
No direct correlation of data
Though drugs are tested on animals, no all the data obtained reflects human data.
Since there are variations in enzymes, hormones and structures compared to humans, one cannot fully rely on animal testing for all the drugs and conditions.
Even mental disorders like depression, anxiety, mania, etc., cannot be precisely induced in animals. So the data and effectiveness cannot be reliable for human use.
Not all medicines can be tested: Though animal testing is useful for evaluating drugs, not all drugs can be evaluated similarly.
For example, drugs used in psychiatry are hard to be determined for their efficiency in animals because animals do not show similar psychiatric behavior to humans.
This is again due to impractical problems.
This is a widespread issue wherein the experimenter does not give proper care to animals.
This can happen before, during and after completing animal drug testing. Those animals which are not meant to be killed as a part of the experiment are killed by starving to death or are reused for other experiments.
This can be due to financial constraints or a lack of sympathy and concern for animals.
But still, animals are to be given proper care and allowed for complete recovery from experimental fatigue. And they could let be go free.
In most cases, this does not happen.
To Record the safety profile of the drug.
Animals are essential to study the toxicology of any drug substance. Every drug material can be toxic in higher doses. To determine that dose, animals must fix the lethal dose (LD50) or lethal concentration (LC50).
In such experiments, animal research is indispensable.
Checking if the drug is effective.
For some drugs, there could narrow margin between the toxic dose and therapeutic window.
In such cases, animal studies can help fix therapeutic doses without exposing humans to toxic effects.
Ability to test multiple forms of drugs in a short time.
There are also instances where multiple drugs of the same chemical class or drugs with multiple-dose forms are tested. They can be done faster on a mass scale with the need for human subjects.
Minimal cost of drug testing.
Recruiting human subjects is quite expensive for drug studies. To minimize the cost, animals can be used in place to a certain extent.
So, the use of animals for drug experiments becomes essential.
But how far have we been using animals judiciously?
Unlike us, they can’t communicate their pain or suffering. Further, they readily believe in humans and undergo whatever procedures are tested on them.
In one way, we humans have been exploiting them for money and career growth.
So, there is a requirement for strict policies to control the misuse of animals in the name of drug research and testing.
Further, we have alternatives like software to discover new drugs, identify toxicity, side effects, etc. thereby use of animals can be avoided.
More importantly, there should be a sense of concern and sympathy towards developed humans as rules alone cannot help them.