Animal tests have failed to predict many other hazards:(30) the addictive properties of the benzodiazepine minor tranquilizers; the deadly diarrhoea associated with antibiotics such as clindamycin; the fatal blood disorder caused by the antibiotic chloramphenicol; and the liver damage linked to a wide variety of medicines including the antifungal drug Nizoral, the anesthetic halothane, the arthritis drug Ibufenac and the antidepressant Zelmid.
Penicillin, discovered by Fleming, was thankfully nor tested on guinea pigs. The drug kills them and in other animals causes fetal deformities. Happily, humans react quite differently.
Many long established drugs exhibit sufficient toxicity in animals to make it unlikely they would be introduced with today's greater emphasis on animal research. Had penicillin been tested during its development on guinea pigs, to whom it is highly toxic, this important antibiotic might have been discarded.(32) Frusemide is a valuable diuretic but causes severe liver damage in mice because of a metabolite not formed to any serious extent in people;33 iron sorbitol is used to treat iron deficiency anaemias but causes sarcomas at the site of intramuscular injection in rats and rabbits although clinical experience has revealed no real hazard to patients.(33) Narcotic drugs such as morphine were discovered without animal research and remain invaluable agents in the relief of severe pain but had morphine been tested on cats prior to clinical trial, it could have been rejected. The drug causes hyperexcitement in cats but calms people.(34) And would valuable medicines such as streptomycin, insulin and penicillin be withheld from pregnant women because they cause birth defects in laboratory animals?
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