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Of Pet Drugs and Animal Testing

In today’s "Pet Drugs are Subject of Safety Fears" Associated Press Writer Jeff Donn unintentionally provides support for not using animals to test drugs for humans.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • The issue at hand is that pet owners are beginning to worry whether problems like those we saw with Vioxx might occur in drugs for their pets. Rimadyl, for instance, has been linked to 3,000 pet deaths. (Yesterday, Donn wrote about how medication is playing an increasingly important role in the lives of pets (and their owners). I have an insulin-dependent diabetic, arthritic greyhound who had cataract surgery and now has synthetic lenses, and who also has a detached retina, and I’m always interested to learn how people make decisions about the health of their animals.
  • Fact: Pet drugs are tested on fewer animals than human drugs before being approved.
  • Fact: Most pet drugs were originally developed for people.
  • "But there is deepening awareness that what works for people may not work in animals. Indeed each species of animal-even varying breeds-may react differently to the same drug." I’m not sure where this deepening awareness is manifesting itself, but someone might want to alert the medical research community.
  • Wait, wait, there’s more . . . "Further, animals can’t say if a drug makes them feel bad."

The $64,000 question, and the stealthy part of the article, becomes: If what works for people may not work in animals, why then would we test drugs for people on animals.  Furthermore, if animals can’t tell us how they’re feeling and we must rely on our interpretations of physical factors, why do we go on such scant "evidence" that a drug works or not, and then administer it to people (who really matter)? Notwithstanding the fact that the animals aren’t ours to use, perhap finally "there is a deepening awareness" that using them isn’t even a great idea scientifically.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Thanks for posting this.

    FYI, I spent about $3k repairing one of my cats' torn ligaments. Seems like crazy money to some, but I'd do the same for myself, my wife or, if I had any, my children, so why wouldn't I for my cats? BTW, your dogs are beautiful.

    March 11, 2007

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