Busting myth about animal tests for drugs
IN his letter (Write Back, October 14), Ben Williamson of Peta, highlights the "crucial fact" that "90% of drugs which pass trials in other species, including mice, ultimately prove either unsafe or ineffective for humans". This is a common myth.
Around 90% of potential drugs are found to be unsafe, or ineffective, using a range of methods, including animal research and early-stage human trials.
A similarly staggering 86% of drugs that pass phase I human trials go on to fail later human tests and, by Peta's own 'logic', that makes humans a bad model for human medicine.
This 'failure rate' is not because animals, or humans, are poor models for human drugs, but because potential drugs can be abandoned for various reasons.
Animal research has given us the badger TB vaccine that many groups, including Peta, are calling for as an alternative to culling.
And thanks, in part, to animal safety testing, there have been no deaths during phase I clinical trials and only one serious incident during the last 30 years.
The tragic irony of the Northwick Trial, in which human participants experienced multiple organ failure, is that the animal data showing that this drug was dangerous was ignored.
DR ELISABETH HARLEY
Understanding Animal Research