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Animal Drug Testing
The co-existence of animals and human being is as old as the discovery of human being. People have always used animals for food, transportation, recreation, sports, and companionship. However, with the advent of scientific research, animals have also been used for scientific experimentations in labs including drug testing. Commonly used animals include rats, mice, guinea pigs, and birds have become a familiar aspect of scientific experimentations (Doke and Shashikant p.223). The process of developing new treatment rely on drug testing and toxicological screenings. These are the main scientific studies where animals are used to test the drugs before they are introduced to the market. Consequently, animals are sometimes infected with diseases so that vaccines and antibiotics to that particular disease can be developed. In some cases, animals have been used to understand the effect of medical procedures and surgical experiments, especially in schools. However, in the recent times, these testing have been criticized for not being able to obtain an appropriate result (ProCon.org, para.1). Therefore, the United States should not allow animal testing because it is cruel and inhumane, testing on humans produces adequate results and should be considered a primary method for drug testing.
For many centuries animals have been used as the primary material for experimentation. During the days of Aristotle, a scientist would dissect animals to test surgical procedures before these procedures were practiced on a human being. With the advancement of medical technology, one would hope that the number of animals used in drug testing and experiments would reduce. However, this is not the case because the number has rapidly increased. For instance, in 2009 an estimated 1,131,076 animals were used for research in the United States (Doke and Shashikant p.224). The United Kingdom used around 3.71 million animals in 2011 while Germany used up to 2.13 million animals in 2001. Irrespective of the animal’s natural instincts, they are taken and isolated from their group and used as a tool for clinical testing in laboratories. In most of these scientific experimentations, either a whole animal or its organs and tissues are used (Doke and Shashikant p.224). In the cases, where these animals survive after experimentation, they are euthanized to help them avoid the later pain and distress resulting from these testing.
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Many individuals tend to argue that the use of animals in drug testing has helped in the development of the medical field. However, this is far from the truth because several issues can be identified in regards to using animals for drug testing. First, animal testing is inhumane and cruel to the animal being used. In many cases animals used for experiments are obtained from breeding centers. In these centers, the animals are subjected to force inhalation, feeding, deprivation of food and water, and prolonged of pains in order for them to be ready for testing. For instance, in the testing phase for the Draize eye test used to determine shampoo irritations, rabbits were incapacitated, and their eyelids held open using clips for multiple days. These animals are exposed to unimaginable pain in the process of testing drugs. Another case of animal cruelty was reported in 2010 by the US Department of Agriculture whereby 97,123 animals suffered pain during experiments (ProCon.org, para.3). Therefore, usage of an animal in scientific drug testing is not conducted humanely rather the animals are only exploited cruelly.
Secondly, through technological development experienced, other alternative methods of testing drugs have been discovered. Currently, there are several alternatives which can be used for drug testing rather than using the animals. Most of these alternative methods have been found to provide more accurate information than animals hence the need to replace animals by these alternatives. One such alternative is In vitro testing. In vitro testing produced results which replicate the real outcome of using the drugs by humans. In vitro testing produces relevant results because it can use a human cell for the process (Doke and Shashikant p.227). Another alternative is microdosing whereby human volunteers are administered with doses which are too small to cause an adverse reaction by the body. Another technological development that will provide more alternatives for testing is the Microfluidic chips which will be able to recreate the functions of the human organs (Huh et al. 2159). These chips are in the advanced stage of development. Therefore, there are several alternatives which produce more accurate and relevant results for medical and scientific testing rather than animals.
Lastly, the cellular and organic constitutes making up an animal body are different for those that make up a human body. As a result, animals are poor test subjects for drugs being developed for human use (Procon.org, para.5). The different cellular and organic constitute also mean that drugs which pass as safe in animal testing should not be assumed to be necessarily safe for human. The metabolic and anatomic models of animals are very different from those of people (PETA, para.3). Primates which are considered to be closely related to human beings also have a distinct metabolic model which is very different from that of human hence animals are poor models for people. As a result, some drugs that pass animal testing ends up affecting the body functions of people. For instance, thalidomide a sleeping pill developed in the 1950s was tested in animals and passed. However, when it was commercially released, it caused 10,000 babies to be born with severe deformities (ProCon.org, para.5). Therefore, animal’s models are not safe for drug testing to be used by humans.
Although several arguments are raised against the use of animals for drug testing, some scientists still argue that animal drug testing is beneficial for medical development. First, they argue that animal testing has contributed to majority life-saving cures and treatments. The use of animals in the past century can be attributed to several medical discoveries that have been witnessed during this period (Mak, Nathan and Michelle 114). Secondly, proponents of animal testing argue that no adequate alternative whole-body system which can be used for testing. Lastly, they argue that the similarity which exists regarding DNA between animals and human makes them appropriate subjects for research.
The claim that animals are critical in every major medical breakthrough in the past 100 years is simply not true because the evidence used to support this claim is insufficient. The misconception of this claim is attributed the media, universities, and lobby groups which have exaggerated the potential of animal testing in past medical advances (PETA, para.2). The second claim laid is lack of adequate alternatives for testing on a whole-body system. There are several alternatives thanks to technological advancements such as In vitro testing (Doke and Shashikant p.224). Furthermore, there are some humans who volunteer to be used to drug testing. The last claim provided is the similarity between animals and humans in terms of their DNA structure. The DNA structure might appear to be similar. However, its functionality in the body of animals differs with its functions in human bodies hence animals are not appropriate models for drug testing for human use.
The ethics of animal use is an important issue in the society. The use of animals in drug testing and other medical experimentations infringe on the welfare of the animals. The availability of various alternatives to animal use should be implemented in health and research facility so that animals can be replaced by these alternatives as the primary subject for drug testing. The use of modern technology such as the Microfluidic chips should be embraced so that animal cruelty can be reduced. Arguments provided by supporters of animals use for drug testing lack sufficient evidence to support, and most of them are built upon misconceptions in the society.
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Doke, Sonali K., and Shashikant C. Dhawale. "Alternatives to animal testing: A review." Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal 23.3 (2015): 223-229.
This article provides background information about animal testing and some of the alternative methods that have been proposed to replaced and reduce animal testing.
Huh, Dongeun, et al. "Microengineered physiological biomimicry: organs-on-chips." Lab on a Chip 12.12 (2012): 2156-2164.
This article discuss and analyses in details the technological advancements which provide alternative drug testing method. Microfluidic method is discusses extensively in this article.
Mak, Isabella WY, Nathan Evaniew, and Michelle Ghert. "Lost in translation: animal models and clinical trials in cancer treatment." American journal of translational research 6.2 (2014): 114.
The article discusses how animal testing is being used to discover treatment for cancer. The author explains in details how the animals are used in the process and some of the alternatives that can be used instead of animals.
PETA. Animal Testing is Bad Science: Point/Counterpoint. PETA, n.d. Web, 11 October 2017. Available at:< https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-bad-science/>
The website provides arguments that proponents of animal testing use to justify the cruelty and inhumane treatment given to the animals. Apart from the arguments, the author provide rebuttals to the claims by these proponents.
ProCon.Org. Should Animals be used for Scientific or Commercial Testing? ProCon.Org, n.d. Web. 11 October 2017. Available at:< https://animal-testing.procon.org/>
This website provides detailed analysis of animal testing. The information contained in this website include background information and statistic about animal testing as well as pros and cons of using animal testing.
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