Testing Medicines On Animals That Proved To Be Ineffective

By Kelsey Prosser

Thesis: 15/20 Comments: Clunky, overlong. See suggestions.

Organization: 17/20 Comments: Main points well-organized, but internal organization of some paragraphs needs work.

Evidence: 20/20 Comments: Very nice!! :)

Clarity of Writing: 18/20 Comments: a lot of redundancy in first paragraph.

Style: 19/20 Comments: Good, last sentence too strident.

Total: 85/100

Animal testing has been around for hundreds of years as a means to test new medicines before they are released to the general public. This method was supposed to save human lives so that unsafe drugs would not be given to people because they would be found unsafe in animals. What most people do not understand is that animal testing is not always an effective way to test medicines. The common misconception is that animal testing insures that drugs are safe for use in humans, although animals do not react to drugs and medicines exactly the same way people do. To people who have not put much thought into animal testing, it might appear to be a successful way of testing new drugs or medicines, but in fact, animal testing is not always effective in seeing if drugs are safe for humans. Three prime examples include the polio vaccine, Thalidomide, and cigarettes.

Polio is a disease that affects the nervous system and in some case can cause paralysis. Although polio rarely occurs anymore, the number of polio cases occurring after the outbreak would have been reduced more quickly if there had been a safe vaccine earlier. People who were infected with polio rarely knew they had the disease because symptoms that occurred such as headache, fever, and vomiting were typical symptoms for many common illnesses. A major outbreak of polio started in the early 1940’s which created the need for a vaccine. Dr. Albert Sabin and Dr. Jonas Salk both had a hand in developing vaccines for polio. When Sabin and Salk first started their research, they used kidney cells in monkeys to test their vaccines, despite using better alternatives which involved using non-nervous system human tissues that would not have affected the monkeys (Orlans 2). Dr. Sabin said that he regretted that the vaccine was first tested on monkeys because the results of the vaccine did not accurately represent the results obtained in humans (Boines 879). Testing the vaccines on monkeys gave misleading results because viruses that are commonly found in monkey cells are now known to cause cancer in humans, and this caused delays for proving the vaccines to be safe enough to be introduced to polio patients (Metz 2411).

Thalidomide was a drug invented to help with morning sickness and nausea for pregnant and nursing mothers. Although Thalidomide was believed to be harmless and was tested in thousands of animals, it was incorrectly assumed to be benign which lead to severe consequences. Children carried by mothers who had taken Thalidomide experienced side effects, the most devastating being birth defects including deformities. These deformities were called phocomelia which caused “flipper limbs” or where arms and legs were unusually short and joined at the hip and shoulder joints (Crawford 712). After the drug was released, over 10,000 cases were documented of children having deformities after their mothers had taken Thalidomide. When the drug was first approved, it was not tested on pregnant animals, and therefore the birth defects and deformities did not show up in results. This is an extreme case where animal testing failed to be effective while testing for useful drugs (Botting 604).

Another example where a product was tested on animals and then found to be unsafe in humans was cigarettes. Cigarettes have been around for hundreds of years, and although cigarettes are not a medicine, research was done to attempt to prove that cigarettes are safe for humans through animal testing. Animal testing showed that cigarette smoke was safe to ingest (Carmines 79). Cigarettes also failed to initially produce cancers in animals which were later found in humans and linked to cigarettes such as throat and lung cancer. Animals do not develop some of the cancers that humans are susceptible to, so these cancers did not appear in animal experiments dealing with cigarettes. The damage done by the initial thought that cigarettes were safe is tremendous. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year from cigarette-related cancers (Lyon 887).

There are countless documented cases of animal testing experiments that have not been effective for humans (Allanou 96). Three major cases include the polio vaccine, Thalidomide, and cigarettes. All three products were initially testing in animals and thought to be safe and effective in humans, but when administered to humans, dangerous consequences and even death occurred. In the cases dealing with the polio vaccine, Thalidomide, and cigarettes, animal testing was disproven to be an effective way of telling if a drug or product would be safe for humans. Many people favor animal testing because they think that it proves that medicines and drugs are safe for humans, but with the polio vaccine, Thalidomide, and cigarettes, this was not the case. If animal testing is not an effective way to prove medicines safe for humans, then it should be discontinued altogether.

Works Cited

Allanou, R., Hansen, B., Van der Bilt, Y., (1999). Public availability of data on EU high production volume chemicals. EC Jont Research Centre, 18 (9), 96.

Boines, G. J., (1952). The use of curari in a repository medium in the management of acute poliomyelitis. American Practice, 87 (1), 879-880.

Botting, J. (2002). The history of thalidomide. Drug News & Perspectives, 15 (9), 604.
Carmines, E.L., (2002). Evaluation of the potential effects of ingredients added to cigarettes. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40 (1), 77-91.

Crawford, C. L., (2003). The schizophrenic career of a “monster drug.” Pediatrics, 111 (3), 712-713.

Lyon, F., (2004). Tobacco smoke and involuntary smoking, monographs on the evaluation of carcinogenic risks to humans. International Agency for Research on Cancer, 83, 887-905.

Metz, B., (2002). Reduction of animal use in human vaccine quality control: opportunities and problems. Vaccine, 20 (19-20), 2411-2430.

Orlans, F., (1994). Data on animal experimentation in the united states: what they do and do not show. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 37, 2.

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