Technological advancements over the last century have impacted every industry positively and negatively. The pharmacological industries have shown exceptional improvement with the increased funding for the search for cures for conditions that afflict humans. It is remarkable that through these efforts, many human conditions previously without a cure now can be cured using pharmacologic drugs. However, there is a disturbing development that has marred the increased research for new drugs; the use of animals for testing these drugs before they can be used to treat humans. The animals most preferred by researchers include rats, dogs, guinea pigs, cats, and monkeys among other primates. The use of animals for testing is not only ineffective, but also a demonstration of the worst cruelty shown to animals. It is worth noting that these animals are not susceptible to human disease causative agents. They include several types of cancers, Parkinson’s disease, heart diseases and schizophrenia among others. The animals are normally artificially induced induced to show signs of the diseases that mimic a sick human being before the testing begins. These experiments fail to take into consideration the complexity of human conditions that are caused by a wide range of factors like socio-economic factors, genetics, personal experiences, and psychological issues. The practice of using animals for testing is wrong and should stop.
Animal testing is largely unreliable in getting drugs that can work in humans. Curing a rat of cancer does not mean that the drug can cure cancer in a human being because of the differences in composition of the two organisms. More than 95 percent of drugs when used in human trials despite giving promising results in tests done in animals. Maybe it is because they do not work in humans or they are outright unsafe for use in humans. It is statistically not useful to use rats, rabbits, dogs and mice to test the safety of a drug for use in human treatment. Because of the different in body composition between humans and animals, only 19 percent of the 93 percent adverse effects can be successfully predicted using animals (David, 2014). It shows that it is better to use humans for testing because there is a possibility of getting more reliable information compared to the use of animals to test for possible side effects of drugs. The safety of drugs in humans done using rats is less than 43 percent accurate. It shows that a drug can be declared safe in the laboratory although there is a more than 50 percent probability that that drug will be unsafe for use in animals. This unreliability of results on drugs gotten through animal testing shows that the practice ought to be abandoned in face of its ineffectiveness.
The use of animals for testing is a waste of animal life as well as the time of the scientists and the money invested in the testing drugs companies. An estimation of over 115 million animals are used in experiments every year globally (Harkness, Turner, VandeWoude, & Wheler, 2013). However, despite a large number of animals used, it is an average of 25 drugs that get approved in the same period by the United States Food and Drug Administration. A large number of these drugs are used for the treatment of rare conditions in humans. Also, despite the increased amount of money invested in drug research by drug industries, the approval rate of newly developed plants is comparable to 50 years ago. It is worth noting that much of the money invested goes into research animal maintenance and acquisition. It shows a high level of inefficiency regarding input and output. It is a waste of resources that could be used to fund other development projects. Another evidence of inefficiency is that of the more than four thousand drugs companies involved in the development of drugs, that involves the use of animals, only a few of them have registered a new medicine with the U.S. FDA in the last 60 years. Even the approved drugs are not active universally in all patients due to differences in individual reactions. It is a small percentage of drugs that show promise in animal studies that proceed to human trials and even a smaller percentage of these drugs works in humans. It shows that we unnecessarily waste animal life for experiments that show little evidence of the massive murder and destruction of animal lives observed annually in research industries and factories.
The fact that animals are different regarding composition and response to many factors is enough to make even the researchers reconsider the use of animals for research. The animals used in these experiments do not naturally suffer from the diseases that afflict humans (Degraba & Pettigrew, 2000). These include most types of heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Schizophrenia and HIV. Inducing these disease in the laboratory animals hardly shows the real picture of the process of a human being getting the disease, nor does it show how a human being affected by the disease will behave. To generalize these factors based on animal studies is tantamount to accepting that human and animal composition are the same; we are no different from rats, mice, and rabbits. But this notion has been refuted by the same scientists. Analysis of mice DNA shows that it is similar to human DNA by only 50 per cent. Indeed, even the analysis of our closest cousins, the chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys, has shown there are differences between their DNA and that of humans. The difference in DNA underlies the difference in response between animals and humans when given the drugs, thus making it erroneous to predict human reactions to drugs based on animal reactions to the same drugs. Another example of the unreliability of animal testing in drugs meant for humans is the fact that the Cynomolgus macaque
monkeys, the most commonly used monkey species, shows resistance to high doses of acetaminophen that would result in death if administered to humans. Also, macadamia nuts, raisins, chocolate, avocados, and grapes are highly toxic to dogs but harmless to humans. It highlights the fundamental difference between humans and animals in their response to many external factors. Aspirin, a common over the counter painkiller, shows toxicity to rats, cats and mice. If it had been tested on these animals, it would be almost certain that it would not be in the pharmacy shelves today. The fact that the drug has shown great activity in humans despite it not being tested in animals shows that we do not need animals to create effective drugs for use in human beings (Degraba & Pettigrew, 2000). The continued killing of animals is cruel and unjustifiable. It ought to stop as soon as possible.
Despite all the above evidence pointing towards the cruelty, ineffectiveness and wasteful use of animals for research in drugs to be used in humans, there are those who maintain that the use of animals in indispensable to advances in modern medicine. They site that many of the researchers in physiology who have won Nobel Prizes since 1901 have heavily relied on data collected from animal testing (Jennifer, 2015). Therefore, it is important to continue animal testing. It is true that some of the discoveries in drugs have been made through animal testing. However, as shown above, the number of discoveries made in the same period does not justify the number of animals that have been cruelly killed over the years. It is not worth it to kill millions of animals to get just one drug and defend your actions based on the single result. Furthermore, the winning of Nobel Prizes is an individual endeavor that should not be achieved via murdering millions of animals.
Another defense offered for the continued use of animals for research is that only 0.2 percent of the experimental animals are dogs, primates, and cats (Lakjer & Vaern, 2015). The rationale here is that primates are closer to humans while cats and dogs pets so killing these animals is inappropriate. For this reason, they have resolved to the use of rats, fish, mice, and birds, which form 97 percent of the research animals in the United Kingdom. This defense is based on the feeling that some life forms (some animals) are more important than others. However, these animals have as good a reason to live like any other. To discriminate based on the human understanding of the importance of a certain animal’s life is to play God which man has not been given express authority to. Cruelty to one animal is cruelty to all animals, and it should stop. A man who is cruel to a rat cannot be trusted not to be cruel to other animals and even humans; that is what he does all day for a living.
The estimated number of animals killed every year for human consumption is overwhelming. In the United States alone, the population consumes in excess of 9 billion chickens (Collins, 2008). It means that for one animal used in research, 340 chickens are killed for human consumption. The above figures are without including the number of other animals like cattle, fish, goats, pigs, among others, which are killed for food as well. The statistics show that the cruelty to animals is practiced both in the laboratories and outside the laboratories. However, the death process of the animals used in the laboratories is prolonged and painful. They die of drug overdose, adverse side effects, and direct killing by humans. On the other hand, the animals that are killed for human consumption die a relatively quick death with little suffering before they die. Though it is still not proper that animals be killed for consumption (vegetarians argue against animal killing), they should experience a quick and as painless as possible death. The lack of this in research firms makes their practice inappropriate. It is necessary to stop it and use the available ever advancing technology to find better ways of testing drugs for human use.
Use of animals in research firms and pharmaceutical industries is an unjustifiable violation of animal life since it shows the highest cruelty to animals. The inefficiency and wastefulness of the practice further make it an unnecessary practice. Animal life should be valued and respected just like the human life that we have invested so much in protecting and improving. The defense offered by researchers, research firms, and animal testing sympathizers that animal testing is crucial for human advancement in medicine and technology only serves to reinforce the erroneous assumption that human life is more important than any other creature’s life. Unfortunately, a person cruel to animals ends up being cruel to even other humans. For the sake of humanity and for sake of respect to other creatures’ lives, animal testing in pharmaceutical industries and other research centers should stop.