Testing on Animals: A Patient's Perspective

The use of animals to test a huge variety of products, from household compounds and cosmetics to Pharmaceutical products, has been standard procedure for many years. More recently questions have been raised about the ethics of this use and numerous regulations have been formulated and enacted to monitor and regulate the use of animals in all areas of research, with the aim of ensuring that such research is carried out as humanely and ethically as possible. This has rightly resulted in the gradual reduction and elimination of animal testing in many of the research areas mentioned. Unfortunately the emotional tone of recent debates on the subject have obscured some of the clear arguments in favour of continuing animal testing in certain circumstances, in particular in the production of many therapeutic products.

What are the alternatives to using animal models in such research?

  1. Computer modelling - already used as much as possible but certainly not sophisticated enough to take the place of animal testing before products are introduced into humans.
  2. Testing in humans straight from the laboratory

As far as ECPP is concerned, the alternatives are not acceptable. We feel that it is essential that animal testing be continued until truly effective alternatives are developed. There are still no cures for too many diseases – infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, and genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and haemophilia. The need for a vaccine against HIV, Hepatitis C and many other infectious diseases is surely beyond question. How are the potential candidates to be tested in the first place? Do we try a potential HIV vaccine in human beings straightaway – who will volunteer?

Whilst acknowledging the imperfections of animal models in research aimed at producing products for human use, we feel that the alternatives currently available for this research are ethically and morally unacceptable. We urge and support the continuing search for better models for the research but feel that in the meantime animal testing, including the use of non-human primates, must be allowed to continue under clear and uniform regulation.

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The Patient can be as knowledgeable as the expert, but is uniquely placed to have a holistic view of their condition

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