Letter: Why is animal testing still going on?

Researches have been fishing in an empty pool called animal research

To the editor:

Wednesday, April 26 was World Day for Animals in Laboratories. Some 50 people commemorated the day in a memorial walk in downtown Kelowna. On the same day, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, published a centre-fold advertisement for the Canadian Cancer Society. The ad said thanks to research, survival rates for many cancers have improved dramatically.

I disagree. To site just one of the “dramatic” improvements, the five-year relative survival ratio of all cancers combined was seven per cent over 25 years. Any reader of the Report on Business would or should know that a seven per cent return over 25 years is a poor investment.

I am reading a book published 17 years ago which sheds light on why medical research has been ineffective in finding cures for human diseases.

The answer is that researches have been fishing in an empty pool called animal research. The book is called Sacred Cows and Golden Geese. It is still highly relevant. A current book by Richard Harris, called Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope and Wastes Billions may help steer researchers to use human models for finding human cures. No one wants to waste billions of dollars.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Ball committee chose to recognize two research projects, with only a cursory description of the projects. As someone interested in obtaining better results for human cures, I hope future reporters will delve deeper into the types of research that are being funded by grants and balls. I would be happy to donate to clinical research (non-animal research) such as well-funded computer modeling, testing on human tissues and monitoring of drug effects in patients. I did not know, for instance, that any side-effects of a drug I report to my doctor, are not necessarily forwarded to the pharmaceutical company which makes the drug or to some government authority.

Nearly everyone supports the idea of research on animals in laboratories to find cures for human diseases. However, if the research is a waste of time and money, and delays finding cures, it may be time to ask why failed methods continue to be used.

Researchers are quick to publish cures which work in animals. Too frequently, the public is left to believe that if the new drug cures animals, it will also cure humans.

Except in books such as Sacred Cows, I have not read any news stories reporting that drugs which cured animals have not helped humans. We need follow-up stories on human results of drugs which cure animals. Without follow-ups on humans, research dollars are really funding veterinary cures.

Helen Schiele, Kelowna

Kelowna Capital News

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