The aspects and consequences of animal testing are debatable issues in today’s world. While some believe that animal experimentation ensures human safety, others think that such an approach should be eliminated. This paper provides arguments for the latter position and presents supporting claims in detail. The report addresses statistical data and the outcomes of animal testing, offering possible solutions to the problem. The paper aims at proving that animal experimentation should be stopped.
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The Problem of Animal Testing
For many centuries, humans have used animals for their benefit, eating them, utilizing them for transportation, sports, and companionship. Animal experimentation for the purpose of studies is one of the advanced ways of using living creatures (Doke and Dhawale 224). Currently, researchers use mice, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, birds, frogs, fishes, primates, and other animals for scientific purposes. Such an approach aims at preventing negative consequences of the use of cosmetic products for humans, developing treatment measures for diseases, and evaluating the effectiveness and possible side effects of antibiotics and vaccines.
The number of animals used for experimentation has increased with the advancement in medical technology (Doke and Dhawale 224). It is evident that such an approach is highly unethical. Doke and Dhawale report that many animals die during testing; moreover, they experience distress and pain, as well as are isolated from their groups and placed in artificial environments (224). However, the ethical aspect of animal experimentation is only a part of the problem. Another significant issue is that such an approach to research can be harmful to humans, too, due to the disparities between animal models of disease and human illnesses (Akhtar 408).
The problem is especially acute, as animal testing is an expensive research method. These points will be discussed in detail below with reference to the authors that have studied animal experimentation within the Center for Responsible Science (CRS), the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT), the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and other institutions.
Statistics and Costs of Animal Testing
Annually, over 115,000,000 animals are used for scientific purposes (Akhtar 407). In the US alone, at least 820,800 animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act were used for the research in 2016 (Meigs et al. 277). The price ranges for animal testing vary based on the type of toxicity evaluated. For instance, the cost of the study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on non-genotoxic cancer risk may be around $700,000 for the rat 24-month cancer bioassay (Meigs et al. 284). Along with a significantly high price and unethicality of this approach, animal experimentation cannot be considered a fully effective method for safety testing.
Examples of the Problem
The major reason for using animals for the research is that they provide good models of diseases and human biology, allowing scientists to obtain information that can benefit the population’s health (Akhtar 407). However, many medicines that were considered safe during animal experimentation involving at least two species caused severe negative reactions in individuals participating in clinical trials. In 2006, a candidate medicine TGN1412 (UK) led to multiple organ failure in all volunteers, while BIA 10-2474 (France) that had been safe in monkeys, was nearly fatal to the participants (Archibald et al. 419). BIA 10-2474 was tested in 2016 again after multiple successful examinations on various species and caused death in one volunteer and neurological damage in four others.
There are many similar examples of cases in which animal testing did not predict safety in humans. It is vital to mention that these examples are extreme cases, and not all clinical trials lead to adverse effects in individuals. However, 95% of all potential drugs fail clinical trials after preclinical animal tests (Archibald et al. 421). Thus, in addition to ethical aspects of the problem and the high cost of animal experimentation, such an approach to research may be harmful to individuals.
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Consequences of Animal Experimentation
The consequences of animal testing may be adverse and harm both animals and humans. First, of course, animal experimentation causes suffering to animals, which is purposeless in some cases, as the products that harm animals cannot be used for humans. Second, as the examples mentioned above show, animal testing is an unreliable approach that does not guarantee human safety. It means that misleading preclinical animal studies can result in deaths and adverse health outcomes in participants of clinical trials (Archibald et al. 422). The minimization of animal experimentation could eliminate the false sense of security associated with this approach.
A shift to a different approach could change the world by motivating scientists for moving towards more ethical, cost-efficient, and reliable research strategies. The development of new strategies, in its turn, could result in significant improvement in the quality of medicines and cosmetic products that would have fewer side effects and affect individuals’ lives positively.
Solutions to the Problem of Animal Testing
Presentation, Costs of Implementation, and Evaluation Methods
Two solutions can be used to minimize the problem and consequences of animal testing. The first one is using in vitro models, such as human skin equivalents. The second one is utilizing in silico models, such as computer modeling. In vitro models can be used to model human responses to proposed drugs. They can be characterized the following way:
- They can use human skin cells to see whether medications can cause severe damage;
- Similar models have already been used in the industry; no need for inventions;
- Their costs are relatively low. The study cost with the use of the EpiDerm human skin model is $850 (Meigs et al. 284).
In silico models are still a developing approach to testing. They can be characterized the following way:
- They involve designing mathematical models of the human body for experimentation;
- It may take several decades for such technologies to be used extensively;
- The costs of completing this solution may be rather high, as it requires time (up to millions of dollars);
- The price for tests will be supposedly lower than animal experimentation.
To evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions, scientists can continue using clinical tests, which will be associated with fewer risks due to higher degrees of predictability. In addition, testing in several laboratories can be utilized to ensure that the results are reliable.
The primary objection to using in vitro models is that their utilization and validation are demanding. The current validation process may require up to $1,000,000, which makes it unaffordable for small companies (Archibald et al. 427). The objection to the utilization of computer modeling is that currently, the ways in which this approach can be applied are limited. However, the cost of animal testing is much higher than the use of in vitro models, which makes the latter beneficial from the economic perspective, too (Meigs et al. 284). As for computer modeling, its future development is promising, as it can provide reliable results of in silico tests and reduce animal suffering.
The proposed solutions are similar to the ones tried in the industry. Their primary difference is that the currently used in vitro models serve more simple goals, while the majority of testing procedures is performed through animal experimentation. Today’s in silico models are mostly utilized for toxicity screening and the analysis of basic pharmacokinetic events (Cheluvappa et al.). The suggested solution can be used for more complex testing and prediction of outcomes. The proposed models are significant because they expand the potentials tools that already exist, which means that there will be no need to develop a completely new mean of technology. At the same time, they can improve the quality of testing, eliminate ethical issues, and ensure safety.
The paper reveals that although animal experimentation is a common practice, it does not ensure human safety. Such an approach is unreliable because of the differences between animal models and human illnesses. In addition, animal testing is ineffective and expensive, while alternative cost-efficient methods are available. The possible solution is the implementation of in vitro models using human skin cells and in silico models of the human body.
Akhtar, Aysha. “The Flaws and Human Harms of Animal Experimentation.” Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, vol. 24, no. 4, 2015, pp. 407-419.
Archibald, Kathy, et al. “Replacing Animal Tests to Improve Safety for Humans.” Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change, edited by Kathrin Herrmann and Kimberley Jayne, Brill, 2019, pp. 417-442.
Cheluvappa, Rajkumar, et al. “Ethics of Animal Research in Human Disease Remediation, Its Institutional Teaching; and Alternatives to Animal Experimentation.” Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, vol. 5, no. 4, 2017. Web.
Doke, Sonali K., and Shashikant C. Dhawale. “Alternatives to Animal Testing: A Review.” Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. 23, no. 3, 2015, pp. 223-229.
Meigs, Lucy, et al. “Animal Testing and Its Alternatives – The Most Important Omics is Economics.” ALTEX, vol. 35, no. 3, 2018, pp. 275-305.