When animals are used for testing, we inflict severe pain on them.
Sometimes it leads to permanent disability and even death.
But, using animals for research is a common practice.
They have a living body with structure and physiology similar to humans.
Even they can be trained or genetically modified to mimic most human disorders and psychological conditions.
Hence, the newly discovered drug molecules are taken up for testing in animals in pre-clinical trials.
These experiments on animals help us to understand the maximal tolerable dose, toxic dose and adverse effects.
Thus helping us to fix the suitable doses needed for testing in human studies.
But in the process, we inflict pain, suffering and even death on these 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.
Drug testing aims to find the toxic dose, maximum tolerable dose, route of administration, mechanisms of metabolism and route of elimination.
These studies, when taken on humans, can lead to huge fatalities. To avoid this, we test them first on small animals.
But, this goal of drug experiments have the following problems
Negative traits involved:
- Misuse of animals
- Excess use of animals.
- Unnecessary use of animals in the name of research.
- Improper care and treatment during housing.
- No direct correlation of data in many cases
- Not all medicines can be tested in this method.
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 and gain a publications. This helps them to enhance their career.
- Their work, in most cases, is just a waste and they perform all sorts of experiments regardless of the benefit to society.
- Their own motto is to get career-based incentives.
- In such cases, they work on alternatives like fruit fly like insects instead of animals.
No direct correlation of data
- Though drugs are tested on animals, the data obtained cannot be correctly correlated with human data.
- This occurs due to the variations in enzymes, hormones and structures compared to humans.
- Thus, 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.
- Hence, it is not wise to rely on animals for every sort of drug discovery.
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. The animals do not show similar psychiatric behavior to humans.
This is a practical 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.
- Before experiment, they may be put under harsh conditions due to lack of space or suitable means.
- After experiments, if they are alive, they are starved to death as they find it expensive to feed them.
- This can be due to financial constraints or a lack of sympathy and concern for animals.
- Sometimes, they are reused for other experiments. In such cases, animals are to be given sufficient time for complete recovery from previous experimental fatigue.
- And they could let be go free.
In most cases, this does not happen.
When is animals experiment necessary?
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 toxic dose, animals are employed to 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 of 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.