Science can be full of difficult
Scientists who design drugs and other medical treatments have to
make difficult decisions about testing drugs on animals. Planet
Science investigates the facts.
Why do animal testing?
- It's the law! All drugs have to be tested on animals before
they can be tested on humans
- To make sure human patients are given a safe dose of a
- Patients feel safe and are more likely to trust medicines if
they know they have been tested on animals first.
Why introduce alternatives to animal
- Humans and animals don't always react in the same way to a
drug. One drug, TGN1412, was tested on animals and in humans. All
the human patients suffered life-threatening side-effects which
didn't appear in animals.
- Not all drugs are used for the original purpose they were
designed for. Animal testing can't show all the potential uses of a
- Ethical considerations - is it morally right to test
all medicines on animals first?
Have scientists developed any alternatives to animal
Yes! Some of these are currently being used alongside animal
testing. For example, some scientists are using synthetic skin to
measure how drugs travel through the skin. Other scientists use
human cell cultures to test how drugs work.
Do animal based experiments produce useful
It depends who you ask!
YES: Life support machines, dialysis, and asthma drugs have all
been produced using animal testing.
NO: All the research which used animal testing in the EU was
investigated recently. The investigators found that animal testing
generally has a high scientific value, but that very few animal
testing trials have a high medical benefit.
Can we remove animal testing from the pharmaceutical
At the moment it's the law that all medical drugs are tested on
animals, so the law would need to be changed. Perhaps the law could
be changed so that animal testing was optional, rather than
compulsory. Scientists could decide not to test drugs on animals if
they knew that it was safe to do so.
We would need alternatives to animal testing, which could safely
test drugs without harmful consequences for humans. Animal testing
alternatives are being developed in universities and laboratories
across the country.
Do you think we will ever be able to replace animal testing with
these alternatives? Should animal testing be optional, not
compulsory? You decide!
For more information, have a look at this clip of Dr Laura
Waters, pharmaceutical scientist, talking about her thoughts on
Inspired by Dr Laura Waters' talk at the British Science