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'Alternative' Medical Research?

Are there 'alternatives' to animal experiments? Of course not: There are no 'alternatives' to vivisection, because any method intended to replace it should have the same qualities. It is hard to find anything in biomedical research that is, and always has been, more misleading and deceptive to human medicine than vivisection. So the methods we propose for medical research should be 'scientific' rather than 'alternative' methods.

Animal-based research cannot be extrapolated to humans because of species differences and is therefore misleading and counterproductive. Testing a drug or chemical on an animal provides no evidence that it is safe for humans: animals do not react in the same way to drugs and other substances as we do, due to differences in their absorption, distribution, metabolism, response to and elimination of drugs. Diseases which are induced artificially in the laboratory in order to evaluate drugs can never be compared to those arising spontaneously in humans. Following are just a few examples of drugs which have caused horrific harm to people, even though they had all been 'safety tested' on animals:

Hailed as a 'wonder-drug' for arthritis. Withdrawn in 1982 after 62 deaths and 3,500 serious side effects, in the UK alone, including damage to skin, eyes, circulation, liver, and kidneys.

CLIOQUINOL (also known as Entero-Vioform)
Given as an anti-diarrhoeal drug. Widely known to have caused 30,000 cases of blindness and/or paralysis in Japan alone and thousands of deaths worldwide. It caused a new serious disease called SMON.

Given as a sedative to pregnant women and marketed by Chemie-Gruenenthal as a "harmless tranquilizer for the pregnant woman and absolutely safe for the unborn child", it caused tens of thousands of birth defects worldwide. In adults, thalidomide also produced peripheral neuropathy (permanent nerve damage), not detected in animal tests.

A heart drug given to patients for four years before side effects were identified, including blindness, stomach problems, pains in joints and growths.

Moneim A Fadali, MD FACS, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, USA. Patron, DLRM, states:

"Animal models differ from their human counterparts. Conclusions drawn from animal research, are likely to delay progress, mislead and do harm to the patient "

It is imperative and urgent to end all animal experiments without delay, opening the way to a change in direction towards meaningful research, healing and protection, and thus restoring faith and respect in the medical profession.

Pharmaceutical companies claim that new drugs must be tested on animals to ensure safety before they are given to patients; but the evidence shows that animal tests are not only worthless, they are also dangerously unpredictable. We use a method - vivisection - which continues to lead to terrible mistakes, which kills and maims millions of people and which continues to contribute to our environmental disasters, none of which can be predicted under animal-laboratory conditions.

'Alternative' techniques of research only succeed in reducing the numbers of animals in certain procedures and even the researchers themselves often state that they must continue to use animals at present until techniques are perfected. Furthermore, new diseases and new treatments may require development of revised methods of 'alternative' research, and so the method of animal research goes on and on, with all its inherent dangers.


"Epidemiology, computers for the construction of mathematical models, and cell and tissue cultures in vitro, are three fundamental methods in modern biomedical research. But running parallel with them (and partly derived from them) are many others which awaken a new hope: the hope that biomedical research may already be on the way to a radical renewal."

- Prof. Pietro Croce, MD, Pathologist, Italy. Member, College of American Pathologists.

Most 'alternative' methods are based not on truly scientific methods such as human cell and tissue cultures and clinical investigations of human patients, but rather on animal cell and tissue cultures. Thus, for the so-called validation of 'alternative' methods - a process which takes years, if ever, to complete - the researchers not only compare the data for their "alternative" methods with the data from animal experiments, but they also repeat the very animal experiments their 'alternative' methods are supposed to replace, in order to obtain additional data for the purpose of further comparisons!

This endless and absolutely senseless repetition of animal experiments over a period of years (despite the masses of data from decades of previous animal experiments) leads neither to the reduction, nor the replacement, but rather to the perpetuation of animal experiments, causing further harm to medicine and consequently the patient; as well as immense and needless suffering to the unfortunate animals in these worthless and wasteful experiments.


The first R: Reduce the number of animals used in experiments. Vivisectors are frequently heard to say; 'We are working for the welfare of humans for the welfare of us all. And for this noble purpose we need to experiment on animals. Nevertheless, in our enormous love for nature and animals, we have devised optimal methods for the practice of our unwilling cruelty on a reduced number of animals.' (Scientific anti-vivisectionists refute this by their proof of the unscientific nature of all inter-species experimentation.)

The second R: Refine the methodology. We know only too well that vivisectionist methods are very 'refined'. But however refined, animal research remains scientifically invalid.

The third R: Replace animal experimentation with other methods. Of the three Rs, this is perhaps the smartest. The reasoning runs thus: 'We can no longer confront the increasing public opposition to vivisection. Nor can we face up to the scientific arguments proving that vivisection is even more of a crime against humanity than against animals. So, let us play for time. The safest way to do this is to show that we are studying methods to replace animal experimentation. People know that this will take time. (One is, of course, supposed to assume that their 'valid' animal experiments can be replaced by other equally (sic) valid experiments, thus vindicating the present system, scientifically at least - which is the very point that anti-vivisectionists are contesting.)

There are those who support 'Reduction', 'Refinement' and 'Replacement' (known as the 3R's) who argue that complete abolition of all animal experiments could endanger today's animal tested medical research, which they say is necessary for the conquest of diseases and that products must be sufficiently tested on animals to ensure a proper estimation of the risks they may pose to humans and animals.

But as animal-based research clearly cannot be extrapolated to humans, the only safeguard is total abolition of all animal experiments, on medical and scientific grounds.

Those who endorse the 3R's and support the research and development of 'alternative' methods, do so on the assumption that animal experiments are a useful and necessary method which cannot be abolished, but can only gradually and partially be refined, reduced and replaced with 'alternative' methods.

When it concerns health especially, the public has the right to information; and it is our duty to make people aware of the dangers and unreliability of animal-based research and medicine. Despite the power and sway over governments by pharmaceutical companies, we should never be afraid to stand up for the truth.

Of course, without animal experimentation the vivisectors would lose the opportunity of reaping, with no talent and little effort, academic titles and honours and of publishing papers, making money and pursuing a glittering career. They would also have to waive the chance of currying favour with the same persuasiveness - all this on the strength of allegedly 'irrefutable' results of animal experiments and according to whatever result has been requested by whoever foots the bill.

There are endless possibilities for producing 'irrefutable' evidence in support of any theory, through the use of various animal species - all one has to do is select the appropriate species:

  • There are 11,600 chemicals which have anti-cancer properties in mice, yet not one of these chemicals has been shown to have any anti-cancer properties in humans.
  • Conversely, of the 32 drugs used to treat cancer in humans, not one of them has anti-cancer effects in mice.+
  • To convince consumers that botulinum is harmless, just add a bit of this poison to some cat food; the cat will happily lick its lips. But the cat's traditional prey, the mouse, will die from it as if struck by lightning.*
  • One hundred milligrams of scopolamine leave dogs and cats unaffected, but five milligrams are sufficient to kill a human being.*
  • Amylnitrate dangerously raises the internal pressure of the eyes of dogs, but it lowers the pressure within the human eye.*
  • The foxglove (digitalis) was formerly considered to be dangerous for the heart because, when tested on dogs, It raised their blood pressure. For this reason the use of the medicament, which is of undisputed value for the human heart, was delayed for many years.
  • Novalgin is an anaesthetic for humans, but in cats it causes excitement and salivation, symptoms similar to those occurring in animals suffering from rabies.*

+Source: 'Science' 1997 No 278 p.1041
*Source: 'Vivisection or Science?' by Prof. Pietro Croce



For the sake of the health of the nation and, indeed, of the world, we urgently need to reject the false science of animal experimentation.

Millions are suffering adverse drug reactions and toxicity because of animal research and testing, which have proved to be unscientific, unreliable and harmful to the patient. The results of animal research cannot be extrapolated from animals to man, because of species differences, thus exposing the sick to enormous risks.

Animal experimentation for human medicine is dangerous and only with the total abolition of this fallacious method of research, can valid research replace it with truly scientific treatments, thus saving lives and protecting health.

Many sound scientific methods and therapies already exist: Epidemiology, computer imaging, mathematical models, cell and tissue cultures in vitro and many others.

It is totally irresponsible not to safeguard populations, all over the world, with true science.

Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine, December 2001.

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