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Should the Use of Animals for Medical Research and Drug Testing Continue?

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Should the use of animals for medical research and drug testing continue?

Animal experimentation has been a commonly debated subject for many years, is it cruelty or science? Animal rights campaigners consider the testing of drugs on animals to be both cruel, unnecessary and morally wrong. Yet there is little doubt that animal testing has benefited human health. People do not contract polio anymore because of a vaccine tested on animals. Advances in antibiotics, insulin, and other drugs have been made possible through research done on animals. In examining the arguments for and against testing drugs on animals, this research paper concludes that animal testing under controlled principles should continue for medical research purposes.

In order for scientists to create new drugs, they have to be able to test them to refine them for safe human use. Many animals have similar physical processes to humans and watching how a new drug affects an animal makes it possible to find out how new drugs might affect the human body. Opponents of animal research argue that information from animals does not apply to humans. They point to certain commercial drugs, which have been withdrawn because of side effects in humans. Animal experiments are not used to show that drugs are safe and effective in human beings - they cannot do that. Instead, they are used to help decide whether a particular drug should be tested on people. In that respect, animal testing is only the first step in creating new drug therapies.

Animal testing should be continued for medical research as it provides a safe method for drug testing that is inexpensive and easy to maintain. This is something that cannot easily be done using humans. No one would argue that there is not some degree of pain and suffering inflicted on animals during the testing processes. However, when this is weighed against the human suffering that would occur in terms of the impact on families were a new drug to be tested on people or children, the ‘costs’ of testing on humans would be extremely high. Remedial medical care and even litigation would also add to those costs. Doctors endorse the usage of animals for testing. When surveyed, 99% of all active doctors in the United States stated that animal research has paved the way to much medical advancement. Indeed, the American Physiological Society states that “Animals are necessary to medical research” (American Physiological Society 2016).

While the use of laboratory animals has always been controversial, in practical terms, animals such as rats and rabbits are easily bred and can be maintained safely in controlled labs. Legislation in most countries sets standards for animal treatment, and laboratories have guidelines to prevent cruelty. These take the form of the three Rs, namely; Reduction, Refinement, Replacement. This is a set of principles that scientists are encouraged to follow in order to reduce the impact of research on animals. Reduction of the number of animals used in experiments can be achieved by improving experimental techniques and data analysis, and by sharing information with other researchers. Refinement of experimental procedures can reduce animal suffering by using less invasive techniques and by giving the animals better medical care and living conditions. Replacement involves using alternative techniques such as experimenting on cell cultures instead of whole animals, using computer models and studying human volunteers. Applying these principles will serve to alleviate some of the difficulties associated with the treatment of animals used in medical and drug research.



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