Animal Testing for Pharmaceuticals: Ethical or Unethical?

Topics: Animal rights, Animal testing, Animal Liberation Front Pages: 5 (1860 words) Published: February 24, 2011
Animal Testing for Pharmaceuticals: Ethical or Unethical?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a foundation that has been described as “by far the most successful radical organization in America” (Carlton). The keyword “radical” is a perfect adjective used to describe PETA. According to the co-founder and president, Ingrid Newkirk, they pursue total animal liberation from serving humans which clearly means no meat and dairy, but also means no medical research using animals. PETA and other protesters of animal testing may not realize it, but, at one point, they have most likely received vaccines and antibiotics in order to treat infections. Protesters need to make a wise decision: is it wise to protect a laboratory mouse that may end up dying in a short time span, or to protect the life of a loved one, or even themselves? An example of this includes the vice president of PETA, Mary Beth Sweetland, who is a Type I diabetic, and is only alive to this day because of daily injections of insulin, which has been developed by medical testing using dogs. Animal testing for medical research is necessary in order to improve life for humans (Murray). Because animals are biologically similar to human beings, they are susceptible to many of the same health problems and share similar metabolisms and genotypes which make them good candidates for research. Another question to consider is this: should a new vaccine’s side effects be tested on a sample population of 1,000 human beings or on 1,000 animals? Clearly, sacrificing an animal’s life in order to create advancements in medical research is much nobler than watching thousands or even millions of humans suffer and die from diseases that can be easily prevented by animal testing.

Animal testing is defined as “the use of animals in experiments and development projects usually to determine toxicity, dosing and efficacy of test drugs before proceeding to human clinical trials” ( Many believe that animal testing seems unfair and harsh for the animal due to the fact that they do not have the option of voicing their opinions and personally volunteering for the various procedures. Many also believe that the animals possess emotions, because if they did not have emotions, there would be no chances of becoming attached to their owner. They are also capable of feeling pain when they are hurt, which is confirmed by their whimpers, moans, cries, etc. Animals also endure much stress while they are not in their natural habitat, which can cause inaccurate results (Ernst). Typically, the critics of animal testing mainly focus their attention on the grounds of morality, whether one deserves the authority to perform such tests, and whether those tests are truly needed and if the results truly provide legitimate information. The supporters of animal rights also say that scientists are not allowed to intervene with animals just because they can. Deaths through research are considered unnecessary and technically no different than murder, while animal dissection is considered misleading (Derbyshire). The major disadvantage of animal testing, stated by Alan Goldberg and John Frazier of the John Hopkins Center for the Alternatives to Animal testing, CAAT, are “animal discomfort and death, species-extrapolation problems and excessive time and expense” (Murray). Supporters discredit this statement by putting emphasis on the fact that treatment of animals in tests is mostly administered with anesthesia. Animal testing is also quite costly; animals must be fed and housed and scientists must repeat the experiment a number of times to assure accuracy, which causes many additional costs and deaths. Critics still argue that animals not kept in ideal habitats and animals in distress cause inconsistent and inaccurate results anyways. Accordingly, those against animal testing argue that animal testing should be banned completely (Galaitsis).

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