09 May 2006

Animal Testing (post written at 12.15pm in a notebook)

Ok, I am aware that this post has the potential to be contraversial, but I stand by my opinions and am prepared to defend them as I see fit.

Currently I'm doing a day's home care for a wonderful lady, who is now asleep in her chair. The 12.13 news headlines have just been on, and I'm angered to hear that animal rights activists have written to all small shareholders of GlaxoSmithKline telling them to sell their shares, or risk their personal details being published on the internet.

Let me say this now: I have tested on, and dissected animals in my academic career. For my biomedical sciences BSc it involved laboratory bred rats and tissue from guinea pigs. My laboratory has a home office licence, and the animals were reared and sacrificed humanely, following approved methods.

The laboratory work I carried out was never optional - it was part of my degree and for research. Therefore, I am in no way ashamed of having tested on animals.

Individually, whether we agree with animal testing or not, certain (but not all) mammals share similar biological mechanisms and functions with humans (cats for example cannot be used for testing toxicity as they break down drugs differently), and the only way to prevent chemical injury to humans is to test on a biologically similar system.

How are drugs ever going to improve if we don't test on animals?? Just because humans are used in the testing process, doesn't mean animals (or tissue from them) haven't been used first, or even that animal testing should stop.

Many drugs do not make it through early stage animal testing due to dangerous or undesirable side effects - yet without animal testing, it would need to be trialled on humans!

Admittedly, as we have seen in recent news, not all animal testing can indicate problems in humans. Interestingly, Thalidomide also successfully passed animal testing, although having never been tested on pregnant animals.

Imagine all the products we would be without if not for animal testing?

-- Contact lens wearer?? You'd probably still be cleaning your rapidly disintegrating lenses in tap water.

-- Asthmatic?? Forget that nebuliser or inhaler.

-- Headache?? We'd still be chewing toxic willow bark

-- Diabetic?? You'd be in big trouble.

As a woman who wears cosmetics and perfumes (i'm not including personal hygiene products here), I do not agree with vivisection for the beauty industry, because, despite the opinions of some of my peers, beauty products are not essential for day-to-day life.

Do I really need to elaborate?

I am aware that Huntingdon Life Sciences (linked to GSK) is currently being targetted over claims of alleged 'animal cruelty', but the issue of animal testing still annoys me from time to time. I mean, digging up dead grandmothers is really low.........

Obviously animal rights activists don't need pharmaceuticals.


potentilla said...

Hi Merys

Also, using terrorist methods to stop people doing things which are perfectly legal is...well.....terrorist.

What I really stopped by to say was that I just saw your post at Dr Crippen's about amitriptyline and wondered if you'd considered Alexander Technique? You may have seen from some of my comments that I'm generally anti alternative medicine. but AT has not been tested much yet (a bit here
http://www.stat.org.uk/pages/researchpage.htm )
and I've seen my husband get very good results with it.

Merys said...

Hi Potentilla! I have tried all sorts of complementary therapies, finding a degree of success with chinese acupuncture - it just comes down to cost!
I have read about the Alexander technique before, but I can't remember it off hand (will look at the linky in a minute).

potentilla said...

My husband's put a pretty good page on our site


He had lessons for a while, but learned how "do" Alexander by himself and hasn't had a lesson for about 4 years now.

Anonymous said...

I too have worken with animals. I can't say where due to contracts I signed, but it was in Edinburgh. Silly people would think differently to animal testing if one of their relatives was ill with a disease that could be cured by testing vaccines on animals. I'm not even going to go in to a rant....

Jon said...

It has been a difficult perception of PETA and similar Animal Rights activist for me to get over. But unfortunately threats of violence and use of fear to coerce people for their political agenda IS nothing short of terrorism.

On the ethics of animal testing however, I am really still on the fence. It is vital as you say to medical research but perhaps a compromise can be made on less important products such as cosmetics. Also, I view animal testing and lab dissections very differently. I'm sure the main concerns of activists are for the well-being of the animals. I don't think an animal killed for dissection goes through potentially the same amount of suffering as one that is kept alive for weeks in a GSK study.

Anonymous said...

AT -- it's expensive... (I do hear well of it though). Any good form of relaxation training helps either getting to sleep or being relaxed about not sleeping; here is a teach-yourself autogenics guide with other links.
I take temazepam from time to time: 10mg a night. I'm lucky, I don't get tolerant.

(Hello potentilla. I'm jayann. I am also inefficient, hence the 2 names!)

Anonymous said...

"Silly people would think differently to animal testing if one of their relatives was ill with a disease that could be cured by testing vaccines on animals."

Listen: if one of my relatives was ill, I'd be happy to vivisect YOU if it led to a chance of a cure. Wouldn't make it right, though, would it?

It isn't very helpful to confuse the actions of a small group of unrepresentative people (the exhumers) with a principle - it's a similar fallacy to ad hominem arguments.

Anonymous said...

well obviously animal rights activists stick to their beliefs & don't use any sort of medication thats been tested on animals themselves or their children! somehow i cant quite beleive this, in my mind it's far better for a rat to be tested on (humanely i might add) for medical research than a human where it could prove fatal. I HAVE to take medication, I have absolutely no choice, the same as millions of others in the world. Can any activist thats protesting against this honestly tell me it's fairer to let any human being suffer with any sort of painful disease ( cancer being 1 of the worst) than to let a lab rat humanely be tested on & die if that testing has given us a valuable drug in treating those sorts of illnesses?
& no, I don't agree with animal testing for cosmetics, as the author of this blog says, they are not essential to day to day life, medicines are.

Merys said...

anonymous - I hear what you're saying, and I don't believe I am confusing small groups of people with the larger groups. My opinion is for animal testing for drug testing for disease and better quality of life for humans. It's just that some people go farther than others to make their point.
Are you saying you only justify testing if a member of your family was ill?

Anonymous said...

Merys - no, I was trying to say that emotional involvement can cloud judgement. Of course, I shouldn't be allowed to vivisect rob, not even to save a family member. But I might want to, if I thought it would save someone close to me. So, in such circumstances, my wishes should be disregarded because they would be based on emotion and sentiment rather than stemming from a principle.

However, if my ethical framework contained a principle that it was ok to vivisect rob-type people to save anonymous-type people, there's a principle there (but not one to which many people would subscribe, I think) and my arguments would not fail because of their emotional base.

The root trouble in these areas is that people have different ethical frameworks.

On another note - the problem with thalidomide was the chirality of the dope under test. When they came to manufacture in bulk, it contained right- and left-handed molecules, whereas the test drugs were made by a different process that resulted in the production of molecules with a single handedness that did not lead to birth defects.

Merys said...

Anon - I decided not to go into the racemic properties of thalidomide because I thought it would complicate matters. The absence of testing in pregnant subjects has also been implicated.

Anonymous said...


Please read this blog for an alternate view of Vivisection

Anonymous said...

I'd be upset if you vivisected (is that the right word?) me.