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Issue 17
Scandal at University of KZN research lab
What recognised primatologists say
Cruelty at Scottish lab exposed
Animal tested drugs killing people
Few Drugs are improvements
World Day for Laboratory Animals : 24th APRIL 2005
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ANIMAL TESTED DRUGS KILLING PEOPLE


At frequent intervals, animal tested drugs are withdrawn from the market after killing millions of people because of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). The latest drug to be withdrawn is the anti-arthritic drug Vioxx, which was found to increase cardio-vascular events such as heart attack and stroke, beginning after 18 months of treatment.

Vioxx now joins medications such as Phenacetin, E-Ferol, Oraflex, Zomax, Suprol, Selacryn, to name just a few that have been taken off the market after it was discovered that they caused severe (ADRs) that did not come to light during animal testing.

According to a report released in Washington in August 2002, the leading cause of death in the US is now recognised to be ADRs. No longer heart attacks, cardio-vascular accidents nor cancer, but animal-tested pharmaceutical products.

The 3rd biggest killer in the UK is ADRs from animal tested drugs, which elicited the following statement in the British Medical Journal: "the complexity and reach of modern medicines have come to represent new levels of harm to patients…….more people in Great Britain die from adverse reactions to medical drugs each year, than are killed on the roads". (BMJ 15 April 02.)

It is now considered that only 5-10% of ADRs are actually reported - physicians are generally loath to file such reports owing to the amount of administrative work and investigation involved. Also, the reporting of ADRs is voluntary, not mandatory. This partly accounts for the fact that it is often many years before sufficient reports cause a serious investigation into a drug's safety.

As in the case of Vioxx, the adverse reactions often only commence after prolonged use. This would partly explain why these reactions are not picked up in laboratory animals - they simply do not live long enough.

Professor Gerhardt Zbinden, one of the world's best known toxicologists, showed that only 3 of the 45 most common drug side-effects might be predicted using animals. According to a statement released by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, it was accepted that animal experiments are correct only thirty percent of the time. By the Law of Averages, tossing up a coin gives a correct answer 50% of the time. One would, therefore, be better off tossing a coin.

Small wonder that drugs are marketed anyway, irrespective of the effects on animals. Drugs are marketed because of profits, not altruisim. It's as simple as that.

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