Every year millions of animals suffer and die in the world’s laboratories. Yet many people are convinced that it is unjust to expose any sentiment and unconsenting individual to suffering, or the risk of suffering, when the only potential benefit would be to others. Such ethical considerations are strongly reinforced by mounting evidence that animal research is an unreliable means of studying, treating and curing human illness, and – as history shows – can prove dangerously misleading as well. This is vividly illustrated by the serious unforeseen side-effects associated with many animal-tested medicines. The problems arise because animals are different to people both in the way their bodies work and in their reaction to drugs. All too often experiments on animals not only produce the wrong answers but divert attention from more reliable sources of information based on the study of humans.
For all these reasons we believe that medical research should concentrate its resources on methods of more direct relevance to people. In the urgent interests of both humans and animals we therefore propose the following programme for health and humane research. This programme, summarised in the seven points below, sets out a positive framework on which to build a new approach to health which would lead to an end to the current obsession with animal research.
1. Emphasis to be directed towards the prevention of ill health
2. An essential drugs policy restricting new medicines to therapeutic areas of real need, thus avoiding the production of duplicate "me too" drugs for which there is no medical justification.
3. Medical research to rely on methods of direct relevance to people.
4. Medical training to concentrate on the study of human beings.
5. A switch to non-animal test systems to improve the safety of medicines.
6. Vaccines to be produced from human rather than animal cells.
7. Governments to ensure the rapid development, validation and utilisation of alternative systems.
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