Studies in dogs and monkeys no more informative than tossing a coin

The common claim that ‘virtually every medical achievement of the last century has benefitted to some extent from animal research’ is an outrageous abuse of the trust placed by the public in our most prestigious academic institutions, according to science journalist Robert Matthews:see BBC Focus Magazine article (February 2008)

Robert Matthews has re-analysed the data from a much quoted published paper assessing the predictivity of dogs and monkeys for the toxicity of anti-cancer drugs and found that the predictive values quoted were calculated incorrectly. When calculated correctly, “the data provide no statistically credible evidence that these animal models contribute any predictive value, either separately or in combination.” This stunning piece of work is published in the February issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Robert Matthews has also published an article  in the 16 February issue of New Scientist, in which he observes: “Few [studies] provide enough data to allow the value of animal studies to be worked out; those that do suggest they are no more informative than tossing a coin.”