Medical research and animal testing
Animal testing for medical research, attracts a lot of public attention. Although the majority of people accept that animal testing is an essential tool in helping deliver life changing and life saving new medicines. In the UK its illegal to test on an animal when a non animal alternative is available. The careful regulated use of animals remains a vital tool in improving our knowledge and understanding of disease and ensuring the safety of new medicines.
Primates account for less than 0.1% off all animal testing procedures licensed by the Home Office, understandably the use of primates provokes a lot of strong emotions from the general public. Yet the use of primates has been of great influence in major medical advances, such as life support systems for premature babies and deep brain stimulation to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Research done on primates tends to be focused predominantly on major infectious diseases, such as treatments for TB, important neurological studies and new treatments for paralysis. UK and International law is clear that the vast majority of medicines intended for human use can’t be licensed without having relevant animal testing done. Primates are used for some of this testing however this is only when they are the most appropriate species. While governments acknowledge the importance of animal testing, many are implementing a plan to develop and adopt more alternatives to animal testing.
In the meantime, many companies have been accused of forgetting their social responsibility by involving themselves with life saving medical research. Transport operator Air France, who have been transporting animals used in research. Air France has had a lot of criticism for this even though they maintain that high welfare standards are kept for the animals. Animal testing is a very emotional subject, this could be due to secrecy that surrounds it but we have to also acknowledge that a lot of good also comes from it.