Animal testing for drug discovery, biomedical research and cosmetics have been a commonly implemented practice in spite of the various ethical concerns that have been raised. Most scientists all over the globe have supported this method being aware of the potential benefits of undertaking such experimentation on animals with the perspective of making groundbreaking scientific discoveries in medicine and healthcare domain. However, unable to fathom the importance of this laboratory procedure, there exists a controversy regarding the implementation of animal testing in scientific research.
The advancement in research towards the cure of several clinical conditions such as the discovery of insulin for treating diabetes and vaccines against several diseases has been proved effective after being tested on animal subjects. The long-term research directed towards seeking a potential cure for life-threatening health conditions such as cancer, AIDS, brain injury is being undertaken on animals first, in order to understand if the desired effects of the medication can be achieved in affected patients.
The effects of drugs or chemicals against specific therapeutic targets characterizing a particular disease have to be analyzed on a living system not only to identify its efficacy but also to understand the possible side effects associated with its intake. In spite of these tests being performed on microbial systems, animals are the closest possible match with respect to the biochemical and physiological constitution of humans, justifying its use in laboratory testing. Moreover, all mammals including man share a common ancestor and therefore, hold similar vital organs and biological systems.
Many of the medications used for laboratory testing may be associated with the risk of being lethal or toxic to the human body. Under such circumstances, it is considered unethical to introduce such foreign substances into human subjects as clinical trials before being used in animals. Because these procedures are directly associated with strict compliance with appropriate laws and regulations governing the safety and humane treatment of animals, generally, laboratory testing is done by specially trained experts and professionals. Most of these studies are, therefore, monitored so as to align experimentation on animals in agreement with the ethical concerns to be addressed while maintaining the reliability of the results. In many recorded cases, these procedures have potentially helped cure certain existing debilitating conditions in animals themselves, thereby, contributing to the improvement of their health.
A common logic behind the use of animals such as rats, mice etc. for laboratory testing purposes is attributed to a shorter life span of these organisms relative to man. According to various religious beliefs existing in the society, man is clearly dominant over animals. In keeping with the principles of morality, he could use them in experimentation by ensuring proper treatment and care since animals lack the cognitive ability to express their consent. Most of the scientific organizations, biologists, and biomedical researchers have thereby, endorsed animal testing as an acceptable scientific procedure in the laboratory owing to the advancement of research and progress it is capable of achieving. They believe like most other scientists that since a minor percentage of animals are affected during the procedure, it is a lesser price to pay relative to the harm we cause to them for their consumption.
However, animals being as much a part of the biological community, their laboratory testing may raise anguish and resentment among many. In the name of conducting scientific research and experimentation, certain animals are subjected to ill-treatment and cruelty in the course of various studies. In spite of an existing framework of rules and regulations demanding appropriate care for animals, some of the precautionary measures may not be addressed during experimentation resulting in their mishandling and abuse. On the basis of our religious beliefs, we as humans are expected to treat animals with kindness and care, which is clearly violated by most of the laboratory practices.
With the advent of scientific technology and converging of scientific procedures with computer software and programs to the extent of analyzing biological systems, there is a scope for developing artificial templates for performing laboratory tests rather than them being used in animals. These methods would bring down the monetary concerns associated with the handling, maintenance and care to be provided to the animals during the course of this laboratory procedure, making it an expensive practice. Also, it would prove to be a more humane practice of related conducting scientific studies instead of tampering with animals just because they lack the ability to express themselves.
Animals may be biologically similar to human beings, however; both the systems do not have an identical biological constitution. Thus, testing of drugs, cosmetics or potential medicines in animals may not always be equally efficient as a form of therapy in humans. Instead, in certain cases, a recorded anomaly in the observed results on the basis of animal studies may be misleading and unreliable to the scientists to be considered for clinical trials in humans. Prior scientific research does not report any medical breakthrough which could be attributed solely to the use of animal testing thus, not highlighting considerably the significance of the method.
Owing to the expenses and, the potential risks of toxicity of drugs that may have been proved safe for consumption by animal testing raises many questions in our minds regarding the need for this practice. The uncertainty regarding the success and accuracy of related animal studies in humans makes the procedure appear to be in certain situations, too harsh for consideration. Thus, it is important for us to support the idea of animal testing to the extent that it proves to be beneficial in making progress in medical research exclusively. There should be a strict body to authorize professionals to practice these experiments on the grounds of complete alignment to existential laws assuring the proper treatment and care for animal subjects during the procedure.