Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

June 9, 2014 - 4:30 pm
Page 1 of 3  Next ->   View as Single Page

shutterstock_160959890

As long as men have experimented upon animals to gain knowledge of physiology or pathology there have been others who have decried the practice. Among them was Doctor Johnson, who said of vivisection that “if the knowledge of physiology has been somewhat increased [by it], he surely buys knowledge dear, who learns the use of lacteals at the expense of his humanity.”

Doctor Johnson argued that the cure of not a single medical condition had been discovered by the use of animal experimentation, and even if that is no longer the case there are nevertheless those who maintain that the benefits of animal research are small by comparison with their cost in the suffering of sentient beings that such research entails.

Two authors in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal, one of them an eminent epidemiologist and the other a sociologist, attempt to answer the question of whether or not animal research is a boon to medicine. Their conclusion is that it is much less so than is commonly supposed, and in some cases it is actually harmful. Since the only possible moral defense of vivisection is that it promotes medical advance, it should be stopped if it does not.

The authors point out that, according to a survey of medical scientists who perform animal experimentation, more are motivated by a desire to advance knowledge or careers than by a desire to help suffering humanity, and are actually rather indifferent to the practical use or otherwise of their work.

This is perhaps just as well, at least for their own peace of mind, because the practical value to patients of most animal experimentation is nil. This is for more than one reason.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Let me give you a slightly different viewpoint, being the son of a veterinarian.

Every last one of these bleeding heart PETA people completely ignore the benefits of animal experimentation - to animals.

Vaccines and treatments for canine and feline distemper (leukopenia). Vaccines for rabies. Vaccines for feline leukemia. Equine encephalitis. I could go on...

"Fe-Leuk" is in particular an example of researchers looking for a human leukemia vaccine - which was unsuccessful, but has undoubtedly saved millions of our furry companions from what is a miserable and painful death. (It does, for some reason, lose effectiveness as the cat ages - something that is still being researched with animal experimentation - but with the goal of helping cats.)

Now, I have never had a problem with getting rid of experimentation to do things like test new mascara - that, truly, is an evil use of animals, with which my father emphatically agreed.

I also have no idea where many of these "bio-ethicists" have worked - but, from the sounds of it, it was in some third world country that has zero guidelines for animal experimentation, unlike every Western nation. Nor do they have overpaid and underworked pharmaceutical regulators peering over their shoulder. A drug that gets through animal testing and moves on to the first phase of human testing (safety) has suddenly become one that is an order of magnitude more expensive - shoddy experimentalism that lets a useless drug through the animal phase is a career killer when you are working for a company like Pfizer or Glaxo-Smith-Kline.

One thing that does reduce the value of animal experimentation - and one we cannot get rid of - is the fact that animal testing is done under controlled conditions. You know what the animal is eating. You know what environment it is being exposed to. You know quite a bit about its genetics, since they are very carefully bred. Move on to human testing, and you have none of that. I recall reading of one fairly promising drug that passed animal testing, passed human phase I for safety - and then was suddenly yanked when it hit phase II (efficacy). Why? Phase I was done in Minneapolis, during the winter. Phase II started and abruptly ended in Sarasota, during the summer. Uh-oh - turned out that taking the drug had a significant correlation with development of malignant melanoma in the test population.

By the way - aside to the Webmaster. Fix the template, your "show less" div is in the wrong place. Was wondering why so many people had three or four of those showing up in their post text...
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I realize that medical doctors are not broadly educated outside their field, but this is a curious position for you to adopt. Of particular interest is the 300 year old quote and lack of supporting data.

I am approaching my fourth decade as a laboratory scientist. My distaste of working with animals led me to bench work, and then to instrumental analysis, and in all these years I have never seen anything remotely approaching the horror and futility you describe. Everyone with an IQ >=60 ought to know that animal data is usually not directly applicable to humans, and that the animal model is chosen to correspond most closely with the hypothesis to be tested.

So how do you feel about using fruit flies to teach genetics to college students?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thalidomide was tested on monkeys before it was given to humans. NO problem with the monkeys but it was disastrous for the humans.

Vivisection is barbaric and morally disgusting. It does not make us better as humans. And no, I'm not a PETA member,(for those who assume that everyone who questions vivisection is a radical). I have seen pictures of animals all covered in tumors and lesions for some 'test' and was not able to tell what sort of animal it was for all the growths. Was completely revolted. I do not donate to medical research foundations unless they use other methods.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
The claims made by the good Dr. Daylrymple are totally unfounded. No western research institution is allowed to conduct any experiments of any kind with vertebrates of any species without a thorough review of the necessity of the work, how suffering is mitigated and whether the work is scientifically sound in terms of controls and other procedures. I conducted extensive bioassays to identify safe and effective substances that could be used to induce conditioned food aversions among predators so that we might finally be able to control predation, the behavior, rather than to have to control predator populations by killing predators. You can review the whole thing on my web site at conditionedtasteaversion.net and see for yourself. Every one of the substances that I discovered had potential in this application (oral estrogen, Carbachol, Landrin, and the insecticide Malathion) had to be first tested on laboratory rats to determine safe and effective doses and detectability. There is no substitute for using animals for research in most biomedical applications and certainly none in behavioral applications such as in the case of conditioned taste aversion research.
Lowell Nicolaus, Ph.D.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
One problem is that one can only tell which animal studies were informative in hindsight. Another problem is that Sturgeon's Revelation seems to apply to science as well as science fiction.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Are you joking? A lot of basic science is done with animals, without which you as a physician would still be using leaches and sacrificing chickens to help your patients. The leaches might like that, but the chickens not so much.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cosmetics are so extremely essential to human health,aren't they,gypciz?

You seem to have chemistry knowledge. Someone just told you chemicals were bad, No? And all you know about recombinant bovine somatotropin is that it's baad because some equally uninformed person told you.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow! An epidemiologist and a sociologist, with psychiatrist Dalrymple. I used to respect the last but it's fading fast. The first two are not holders of sound medical opinions, simply by virtue of their areas of concentration. I personally have never encountered a sociologist who was not also an ardent leftist. Pontification comes easily to these.

There is more to animal trials than drugs, Doctor Dalrymple, though in psychiatry you use only drugs, thus perhaps your myopia. On which humans would you wish to initiate a this-is-how-we-might-do-it instrument development trial of laparoscopic surgery? Oh, you prefer pigs? What about vascular stents? How about spinal cord radiation tolerance doses- want to put people permanently in wheelchairs, or test on animals?l

Experimental drugs are indeed tested on people: Phase I, Phase II and Phase III trials have been around for a very long time, Dalrymple.

The BMJ was once a good medical journal, but went into a tailspin of political correctness, of which this "pity the poor animals" is an expression.

Dalrymple is cranking out too much stuff. Give it more thought and research,sir, and write less.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
The thought of PETA, brings up their RIDICULOUS practice of throwing blood on to women's fur coats. Most women are afraid to wear their furs in public places now.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
My husband works in the pharmaceutical industry, animal pharmaceuticals. Believe it or not, they don't like running animal trials and are working to eliminate them wherever possible for several reasons, ethics among them. However, there is still no way to adequately model a living system outside an actual, living body, so in some cases, testing on living beings is unavoidable.

It's the only way to yield results on things like efficacy and side effects and how many in a population might be expected to show extreme reactions to any drug or vaccine. Would you prefer they stop running animal trials and gather that data by simply gathering the numbers from the general population instead? If they did that, they'd go broke from the lawsuits inside a year.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Experimental drugs HAVE to be tested on something.

It's either going to be an animal, or the first human patient who uses it.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then let it be the human. At the least you learn something slightly useful biologically.

A study done today with the most rigorous protocols still entails giving a placebo to someone who will die earlier than if you gave them the actual treatment, maybe.

Pauling gave the half dead virus to children without animal testing...
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
You might want to look into the concept of "LD50". See also, "LD100".

Animal testing is not only useful, it's morally required.

15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's BS, pure and simple, that you don't learn anything from drug testing with animals.

At the very least you can tell the human patient who first takes the drug what the results of the animal tests were.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
some parts of our cells such as ribososmes are common to all eukaryoytes , so testing the effectiveness of antibiotics which target the ribososme can be performed on any multi-celled creature which can contract the pathogen to be targeted.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All