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14 July 2010
The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is calling for MPs to back an EDM which calls for steps to reduce the increasing number of cases of severe adverse reactions to drugs.
The NAVS supported a proposal in the Safety of Medicines (Evaluation) Bill 2009, which called for a comparison of currently required animal tests with a set of human biology-based tests, to assess the effectiveness of both methods in ensuring human safety. To date, no such study has been undertaken: it is unknown whether, statistically speaking, animal testing is in fact an effective means of preventing dangerous side-effects or not.
EDM 457 Safety of Medicines, tabled by Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, states: That this House believes that the safety of medicines should be established by the most reliable methods available in order to reduce the large and increasing toll of serious adverse drug reactions; and calls on the Government to initiate a comparison of currently required animal tests with a set of human biology-based tests, as proposed in the Safety of Medicines (Evaluation) Bill 2009, to see which is the most effective means to predict the safety of medicines for patients.
Should the study go ahead, thousands of animals every year could be spared from horrific tests, and humans could be spared severe drug reactions. Animal testing has been shown on numerous occasions to be misleading, and a serious barrier to medical progress:
Experimental drug TGN1412 caused terrible, life-threatening side effects in human volunteers. Yet the drug had been given to laboratory monkeys in doses 500 times that given to the volunteers, without side effects. This disaster could have been avoided by using advanced technology, such as microdosing combined with AMS (accelerator mass spectrometry).
The introduction of blood transfusion was delayed over 200 years because of misleading results of animal experiments. The introduction of corneal transplants was delayed nearly 90 years by misleading animal tests.
After a project using 18,000 mice, Teropterin was used to treat acute childhood leukaemia, but the children died more quickly than if they had not been treated at all.
The heart drug, Eraldin was thoroughly studied in animals and satisfied the regulatory authorities. None of the animal tests warned of the serious side effects in people, such as blindness, growths, stomach troubles, and joint pains.
Opren, the anti-arthritis drug, was passed safe in animal tests. It was withdrawn after causing more than 70 deaths, and serious side effects in 3,500 other people, including damage to the skin, eyes, circulation, liver and kidneys.
The NAVS has argued for decades that animal tests are inherently unreliable, as well as being inhumane. EDM 457 calls for the government to begin the comparison, in order to ensure human safety, and establish once and for all the reliability of such clumsy methods. It is hoped that such a study would encourage the adoption of progressive, scientific alternatives, and the phasing out of the archaic practice of using animal models in safety testing.