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Thoughts on Drugs Testing

They've just been discussing the drugs testing incident on Radio 4. The person they've been interviewing just said something along the lines of:

All new drugs must undergo 2 separate tests on animals before human testing. Many reactions like this will be picked up at that stage rather although obviously due to differing physiology sometimes these reactions will not occur with the animals.


You must remember without this testing we would have no new medicines

So, obviously this is a horrible thing to happen to humans, but it's ok for animals?

I know the development of new medicines is something which is a great benefit to human life. However, it does seem that we must do this regardless of the consequences. Our own well-being is far more important than that of any animals.

OK, quality of life would be much lower and mortality rates would be higher without new medicines, however, does that justify developing them at all costs? The human race has survived thousands of years without them.

I'm not saying we shouldn't develop new medicines, of course we should, but any such development should be within the limitations of not inflicting harm to other living things.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
17th Mar, 2006 09:31 (UTC)
So you would say that it's more important to save the life of a mouse than, say, twenty people with cancer? I'm not saying we should go out of our way to hurt animals, but if it comes about because it's the only way of testing, and the drug will save many lives, then it can surely be justified.
17th Mar, 2006 09:52 (UTC)
You can't develop medicines without inflicting harm on other living things.
26th Mar, 2006 18:22 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that. What I'm struggling with is whether it's morally justified to put the needs of the many above that of the one where that one isn't yourself.
17th Mar, 2006 10:53 (UTC)
Some (many?) tests may be needlessly cruel. And many people may think animals deserve few or no rights -- witness them being grown for food. But surely many medicines are still being developed which improve people's lives a lot, and the people are *more* important than the animals?
26th Mar, 2006 18:24 (UTC)
the people are *more* important than the animals

I strongly disagree with that statement.

Why should people be more important than other living beings? intelligence, I guess that would be the standard answer, but would that mean the life of a intelligence human would be more important than that of a stupid one?
28th Mar, 2006 00:24 (UTC)
Hmmm. I'm not sure I can justify it. But I think that's definitely how I feel. If I had a choice between saving a human or an animal from something that isn't there fault, I think I'd have to choose the human[1].

I'm tending to make an arbitrary cut off a bit before birth on something that is (a) human and (b) reasonably sapient as my "class of important things" and say I won't discriminate in a systematic way between them, though there's endless special cases.

Why? I can't explain. I know *why* I feel like that -- I'm evolved to work in a tribe and that's generalised to my species (and other sapient things). But that's not a moral justification, I can only say that seems to be the way it is.

[1] You can also stress-test your beliefs with absurd examples. How simple does an animal have to get before it doesn't matter? Or do you go by biomass? Or what?
28th Mar, 2006 08:17 (UTC)
All life matters

OK, there might be the occasional accident where I step on a snail or something like that, these are always going to happen, even though I try not to as best I can.

In terms of viruses, etc. There's a subtle difference that they are threatening you or those around you, same way as a Lion might be if it were about to eat you, but without that life directly threatening yours or those around you can you justify harming it?
28th Mar, 2006 18:07 (UTC)
All life matters
I'm willing to say all life matters to *some* extent.[1]

But I don't think things like treading on snails are the exception, I think they're inevitable. I do want to avoid treading on snails and torturing fish and so on, as you know, but urbanisation and agriculture and animal testing I think inevitably will kill.

With bacteria, it's not just when it's me or it. I don't see anything wrong with doing whatever I like to a bacteria for my convenience or if I just want to make glowing biogoo.

We may just disagree.

[1] Though (a) not everyone would agree by any means and (b) I don't like harming even plants/statues
17th Mar, 2006 15:41 (UTC)
While I am against animal testing I am realistic enough to understand that it won't be abandoned until an extremely good alternative presents itself.
Animals don't always react to medicines in the same way that humans do and it is a better test of a new drug to try it out on the species for which it is intended. However this does lead to the kind of high profile problems we see in the news at the moment.

Not all alternative medicines are tested on animals and I think the Powers That Be in the medical world might benefit from investigating some of these a bit more than they do at the moment.

(Gets down from soapbox and potters off)
17th Mar, 2006 21:16 (UTC)
Working in biomedicine myself, I have mixed feelings about this really. Firstly, I read that they used a dose 500 times greater on the animal models and this had no ill effect. But this DOES show that using animal models isn't particularly useful. Look what happened with Thalidomide in the 60s!
*I* also understand the need for new medicines, and that is the only sort of animal testing that I could possibly condone (for more than one reason, which I will go into in a moment) BUT this was an anti-inflammatory or something and when we have plenty of other drugs that will do the same job, I really don't see the point other than profit, of course.
I'm an animal lover and a vegetarian, but the reason I condone testing new drugs on animals is this. Drugs that save ANIMAL lives are also tested in the same way. We wouldn't be able to save THEM either without the testing. And you can be your life, if a rat had the capability he'd test on us!
20th Mar, 2006 15:51 (UTC)
The testing for thalidomide was horribly inadequate, though; had they tested it to modern standards on animals, its side-effects would have become apparent.

We do not currently have anti-inflammatories which will reliably make rheumatoid arthritis go away (to pick a purely random example), so further research is not purely motivated by profit.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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