Monday, August 07, 2006

A bit controversial for a monday night

This is probably not the ideal topic for a monday night, but something today brought it to my mind. A small disclaimer here, my views are my own and I do not apologise for them, just as I do not expect others to apologise for their own views.

While at work today I noticed an increased number of security and even police on premises (and yes I did refrain from shouting "Oh my god, they've found me!" then running away giggling, one must be a professional at work after all). Initially I wondered what it was all about (Alfie; bad joke sorry), then around lunchtime I heard a few colleagues discussing animal rights activists nearby, and then it all clicked into place. Another colleague discussed the topic with me, even down to pointing out the procedure for suspicious phonecalls. It worried me a little that just because I now work for a pharmaceutical company (even in an area where I see no animals whatsoever nevermind test on them) I could be considered a target.

This is nothing new in the grand scheme of things; ALF, an extremist animal rights group has caught the attention of the media over recent months by protesting the building of a laboratory at Oxford University. If it stopped at simple peaceful protesting I doubt many would object to their cause, however they use blatent bullying tactics to try to get their way. This has so far ranged from taking and publishing photographs of the builders working on the site (with the result that the builders have to wear balaclavas to protect their identity) to declaring that anyone associated with Oxford University is a viable target. This includes students of the University; students who may not even be studying science subjects or may in fact be against animal testing themselves. These tactics amount to nothing more than terrorism in my eyes.

Any guesses on my stance on animal testing? Well as you probably realise, I strongly believe in the animal testing in medical and pharmaceutical research. However I do not support animal testing for other reasons such as cosmetics. My reasoning is that medicines are essential to life, lipstick is not (although I have no doubt that some women out there believe it is). How many people have been saved due to drugs or procedures that initially had to be tested on animals?

Animal rights protesters proclaim that animal research is uneccessary, I disagree. Speaking from a pharmaceutical perspective animal testing is vital. Drugs need to go through various levels of testing before they can be administered to humans. These tests aim to reduce the level of risk a human volunteer is exposed to when taking the drug. If animal testing was not done, volunteering for drug trials would be tantamount to suicide.

Many protesters claim that there are alternatives to animal testing, well unfortunately there isn't. There are no methods available to recreate an entire living organism, and this is what drugs testing requires to begin to weed out any possible adverse effects. Again it is a case of reducing the risk to humans who take the drug. Also the law in Britain requires that, where an alternative exists to a procedure using animals, it must be used. This law alone should show that we are still some way off from finidng that alternative.

Finally, scientists are not sadists, many will gladly use alternatives when they become available. Right now however, to keep pushing for cures for disease animals must be used. To those who disagree I will ask a question;

If you or someone you cared about was seriously ill would you refuse a drug that would cure you/them because it had been tested on animals?

I know a lot of people wouldn't, the greater good is needed for the greater number, and millions of people will and have benefitted as a result of animal research.

If anyone wants more information on the positive aspects of animal testing, here's a couple of links for your viewing pleasure;

Animal Rights Myths - some common misconceptions about animal testing
Pro-test - standing up for science


thethinker said...

"If you or someone you cared about was seriously ill would you refuse a drug that would cure you/them because it had been tested on animals?"

I would not refuse it.

And, I fully agree with what you said about testing drugs on animals prior to using those drugs on humans. The protestors need to realize that ultimately, the goal is to help people who are in serious medical situations, not to produce cosmetics or something we could certainly do without.

Dory said...

It's funny that a fellow Pharmacologists have the same views as me...

I have seen many protesters in the High St, with their pictures of monkeys and dogs in awful states. When approached by them to sign their petition, I ask:

1. "When were those pictures taken?" Chances are, they are over 20 years old, and certainly pre- Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986

2. "Are any of your family, colleagues or friends insulin-dependent diabetics?" Chances are, most people know a Type 1 diabetic somewhere. Most people, however, forget about Pavlov's Dog.

3. "Do any of your family have any other long-term or chronic medical condition?" Chances are, the protestors know of someone who is dependent on medication. Without animal experimentation, they would not still be with us.

It is ILLEGAL to experiment on animals for cosmetic purposes according to the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and it is also very hard to obtain a licence to work with animals. The premises are also strictly controlled by the Home Office, to monitor the humane treatment of animals.

I am an animal lover, and I am vegetarian.

Scaryhours said...

hey lola this is a little off topic but which do you prefer, cherry coke or wild cherry pepsi?

Carmelo Alongi said...

I'm the same as Dory. My entire life I have tried to steer clear of brand name things like Gillette, because "Mother" said they were tested on animals, not here but in other countries. I think the protestors have misplaced their demonstrations, our country has very strict guidelines for all medical tests, unlinke many overseas. And I'm a vege and an animal lover. And to even it out a bit, here's an orginisation that looks at developing sensible alternatives without terrorism: Dr Hadwen Trust

Merys said...

Rjest said...

I fully agree with your pro-animal testing stance.

We need as many vocal pro-testers as possible because animal rights protesters are making headway more and more. For example Spain is considering outlawing tests on Chimps because they are genetically close to human beings. Surely the argument should be the other way round: we should test on the Chimps precisely because they are similar to humans. That way our tests will be more accurate and we will produce better medicines.

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