Animal Research Failing – So Do More Animal Research?
Victoria University of Wellington is about to host a lecture on why the success rates of pharmaceutical development is
so low and what can be done about it. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) welcomes discussion on this
important issue and hopes that the lecture will signal a move towards better pharmaceutical development.
For decades drug development has relied almost exclusively on animal research which is based on the assumption that what
is good for a rat is good for a human. Reliance on this has given success rates for drugs developed using animal models
being below 10% when they reach the human trial stage. The NZ Anti-Vivisection Society say that it is time that
researchers developed drugs using methods that give data relevant to humans.
“There is something fundamentally wrong with the methods being used when the success rates are that low. In any other
industry if over 90% of new products developed end up being not fit for use the way they’re being developed would be
scrapped. It is concerning when researchers are reported as calling for more of the same. We need fundamental changes to
bring early drug development work into the 21st century, not calls for more of what doesn’t work.” said NZAVS
spokesperson Stephen Manson.
“Researchers using animal models have been describing what they do as a ‘necessary evil’ for decades. It’s not a
necessary, it’s dangerous. If something is clearly not working and is costing a business millions of dollars you don’t
do more of it, you stop and find a better way. You don’t carry on using a failed model until something that works comes
along; you work on finding something that leads to successes.
“Over 90% of the treatments that work in animal models don’t work in humans. This begs the question of how many
treatments that didn’t work in rats would have worked in humans but were shelved at that stage. With that high a rate of
false positives from rats there’s bound to be false negatives too. There may well be many potential treatments being
ignored as researchers couldn’t make them work in whatever animal model they used.”