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International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

History of Animal Experiments

9: Animal Testing Not Safe

Chimpanzees still show no sign of AIDS after inoculation with HIV


Robert Koch

Although it must be admitted that differences between the species are a handicap to those who rely on animal experiments, there are times when they have been used to commercial advantage, to imply superiority over a competitor's product. On the basis of animal tests the arthritis drug Surgam was promoted as giving "gastric protection", a major advantage over similar drugs which do damage the stomach. But human trials showed that Surgam was just like its rivals and the company - Roussel Laboratories - was found guilty of misleading advertising. According to a report of the case in the medical journal Lancet, witnesses for both sides of the case "agreed that animal data could not safely be extrapolated to man."(24)

Paradoxically, it is the very uncertainty of animal research, particularly in toxicity tests, which has led to more and more experiments being performed. But more species do not necessarily overcome the problem and can increase confusion. Aspirin is known to cause birth defects in rats, mice, cats, dogs, guinea pigs and monkeys but is considered relatively safe for pregnant women.(25) On the other hand, arthritis drug Fenclozic acid seemed safe after tests with rats, mice, dogs and monkeys yet caused liver toxicity during clinical trials. Further animal tests, with rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, cats, pigs, horses and another strain of rat, still gave no indication of liver damage.(26)

 

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