According to a news story, “Dogs [and rats] will [be] forced to take lethal doses of party pills under a controversial scientific testing method being considered by the Government to determine whether the designer drugs are safe for humans.”
Through years of drug testing on animals, scientists the world over have learned that tests on one species do not determine how the tested product will affect another species. Each species reacts differently to substances and the reactions may be different for different ages and sexes of the animals tested. The test subjects’ nutritional status may also affect test results. Stress affects the outcomes of these tests, and most of the test subjects are under routine stress both from the unnatural environment in which they live and the way they are handled in the laboratory, not to mention the stress brought about by the actual tests themselves. In addition, substances once proven safe for human use following animal testing include asbestos, cigarette smoke, and DDT. Eventually, these substances were proven harmful to humans. Other examples of animal testing that did not detect harm to humans include tests in rats and rabbits that failed to identify the developmentally toxic effects of PCBs, ACE-inhibiting drugs, tetracycline, diethylstilboestrol (DES), and other drugs.
Advances in tissue engineering and robotics, bioinformatics, genomics, proteomics, metabonomics, systems biology, and in silico (computer-based) systems offer alternatives to animal use. Animal testing can take months if not years at expenses ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to multi-millions of dollars, whereas computer modeling can take place instantaneously and at far lower costs, especially the cost to the animals and their suffering. In vitro tests involving human cell and tissue cultures are faster, cheaper, and more reliable than animal tests in many instances. Many companies are changing to nonanimal alternatives.
For these reasons, testing novel recreational drugs called party pills on dogs and rats may not prove they are safe for human beings. Using non-animal testing methods may prove far more successful without the inordinate pain and suffering and loss of life current methods would incur.
Please write New Zealand’s prime minister and minister of health urging them to reconsider testing these drugs on animals. The time has come when we can no longer subject innocent animals to the pain and suffering associated with biomedical research and testing, which is often unnecessary and costly when compared with other non-animal techniques.
Right Honorable John Key
Honorable Tony Ryall
Minister of Health
Care Distribution Services