These consider some of the issues relating to the use of animals in biomedical research:
When researchers administer a substance to animals, they get plenty of feedback on the effectiveness of that substance in the animals tested. However, results nearly always differ between species, so testing a substance on animals is not a reliable method of predicting the human responses to that substance. Some drugs with potential benefit for humans might not be approved because they have been found to harm animals; conversely, drugs found to be safe in animals might then go on to harm humans.
It is estimated that more than 10,000 people are killed every year in the UK by adverse reactions to prescription medicines (Pirmohamed et al 2004). In the US, adverse drug reactions are the fourth –sixth leading cause of death (Lazarou et al 1998). The arthritis drug Vioxx caused thousands of deaths prior to being taken off the market in 2004. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of deaths, but a scientist at the United States Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) calculated that approximately 55,600 people may have died as a result of Vioxx in the US alone (www.whistleblower.org/dr-david-grahams-full-story). While the FDA and the company that developed Vioxx failed in their responsibilities (Topol 2004), animal tests failed to predict that Vioxx would cause deaths and adverse reactions in humans.