The Use Of Animals In Medical Research Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Animals, Medicine, Human, Health, Humans, Testing, Drugs, Science

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/25

Scientists conduct testing on animals in order to better understand a particular disease, develop new medical preparations or test the safety of a drug. The use of animals for scientific purposes causes a lot of contradictory reactions. Some people believe that this is not a moral problem. Others take opposite opinions. They are convinced that testing on animals should be banned. Each year scientists conduct experiments on millions of rabbits, monkeys and mice. In most cases, they are used for developing and testing the drugs that treat human diseases. In addition, animals are also used for testing the safety of food additives, household chemicals, and cosmetics.
Besides traditional forms of testing on animals, new areas of experimental researches emerged during last decades. For example, more and more animals are now used for experiments in genetic engineering. In this case, human genes are being administered to animal’s organism. Diseases similar to the human diseases may develop in such transgenic animals. Studying the impact of the disease on the body of transgenic animals provides the scientists with opportunities to explain the causes of human diseases. Moreover, it gives them a much greater opportunity to develop new types of treatment for a particular human disease. Animals are also used for manufacturing of medicines. One of the bright examples is a sheep that gives milk, which contains the human protein Alpha-1-Antitrypsin. This protein is necessary for physicians to treat patients who suffer from a form of fatal liver disease (Blackwell, 2014.)

Legal Regulation

In most countries, the conducting of experiments on animals is being regulated by law. The law protects the mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians. All experiments must be conducted in the certified laboratories that meet required standards. Moreover, each person participating in the experiment should have a personal license. Such license is issued only to those who possess the necessary qualifications to carry out each stage of the experiment. Furthermore, Independent Commission assesses the potential extent of the animal’s suffering and decides whether the potential benefits of the experiment exceed the amount of suffering it inflicts. In addition, the Commission must look for the ways to conduct the same experiment without the use of animals.
Modern society encourages the use of alternative methods or at least to reduce the number of animals used in experiments. Nevertheless, a wide range of scientific researchers are still conducted on animals. In particular, in the UK the number of animals involved in experiments in 2012 increased by 8% compared to 2011 (Blackwell, 2014.) Documents regulating the use of laboratory animals were approved by the World Health Organization and the European Convention. These documents guaranteed the protection of the interests of vertebrate animals, ensuring the treatment of experimental animals and their rational use for scientific or educational purposes.
In September 2010, the European Parliament adopted Directive number 2010/63 / EC on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The Directive was registered as the supplement of another document that is still in force. It is Directive number 86/609 / EEC which was adopted in 1986 by the European Economic Community (EEC) in order to regulate the rules of animals use in experiments within the European Union (Alfaro, 2005.) Before the adoption of this document, there was not a general law that specified the rules for experiments using animals in EU. These documents were needed to establish standards, monitor experiments and train staff working with animals.
The experiments are divided into different categories: 1) painless experiments (e.g., when the animal is euthanized and animals do not feel pain); 2) experiments with moderate pain (e.g., when a series of injections are done to animals); and 3) painful experiments (e.g. when the animal is experiencing severe pain. Approximately 5% of eligible trials are painful for animals (Blackwell, 2014.) Even in these cases there are restrictions on a permissible level of the animal suffering. For example, in cancer experiments animals painlessly euthanized when their tumors exceed a certain size. Any production company wishing to use animals for testing of chemicals, household chemicals, and cosmetics should follow the same rules. Although many companies have a license for testing cosmetic products on animals, they voluntarily giving it up.

Major standpoints

Evaluating the arguments for and against animal use in research, people wonder whether the suffering of animals is justified. The answer depends on how a person treats animals and humans. Currently, there are three alternative standpoints in respect of this issue. Supporters of the animal liberation movement consider a human being as one of the many species of animals and do not see any reason to put human being above other species (Alfaro, 2005.) In this case, testing on animals is as much a crime as discrimination based on race or gender. As a result, experiments on animals represent a deliberate cruelty, based on prejudice.
The second point of view is based on the Christian philosophy. According to this standpoint, people are unique creatures of the highest value. There are quite clear differences between humans and animals such as the ability to perceive beauty or moral self-consciousness, the ability to distinguish between moral and immoral acts. In the language of the Bible, man is created “in the image and likeness of God (Bray, 2012.)” The same is not said for the animals. It stipulates that humans are more valuable than animals. God created both humans and animals. The Bible says that humanity is responsible for taking care of the world, and hence of living animals. In other words, people are called to manage the world and its recourses wisely. Supporters of this point of view state that animals belong to people who are inferior beings, and the value of animals lies precisely in their usefulness to humans. Consequently, there is no restriction on the use of animals for the welfare and benefit of people. Those who breed animals for industrial purposes also hold above-mentioned standpoint.
According to general opinions, experiments on such animals as chimpanzees, cats, dogs and rabbits must be limited because these animals have quite developed intellect, communication skills and demonstrate emotional behavior that similar to the behavior of people. However, the humanity is far less concerned about the fate of animals that are not so smart since they do not experience so much suffering as higher animals. Worms and insects’ level of suffering is lower because their nervous system is primitive. Therefore, scientists doubt their ability to feel fear, anxiety and pain (Alfaro, 2005.)

Use of Animals for Medical Testing

Opponent’s Perspectives
Opponents of animal use in research claim that similar researches are not only ethically unacceptable, but the data from animal experiments raise doubts. Although the animals are very similar to humans, some chemicals affect animals in different way than humans. For example, penicillin destroys bacterial infections in humans but it does not work on rabbits. A number of studies critically evaluate the contribution of experiments on primates to medical researchers. Firstly, it is enough ethical arguments against the use of primates in the medical testing. Secondly, scientific evidences strengthen this position. For example, it is known that chimpanzees infected with the AIDS virus do not develop the same AIDS symptoms as humans. In August 2005, in Berlin World Organization for Animal Health and 25 other organizations have signed Resolution of the completion of primate use in biomedical researches (Blackwell, 2014.)
Plenty of medical preparations that have been certified as harmless on completion of testing on animals triggered side effects and even caused death in humans. As a result, these preparations have been withdrawn from the market. In the western world adverse reactions to drugs take the fourth place among the causes of death. For example, Thalidomide causes serious side effects, which were not detected in the testing on animals. In December 1997, troglitazone is a medication for diabetics has been withdrawn from a market only three months after the start of sales. Although this drug has passed all tests on animals, it caused 130 cases of renal failure and six deaths in humans (Alfaro, 2005.)
Vioxx is a means against arthritis caused such serious side effects that the pharmaceutical company Merck was forced to satisfy a lawsuit for 250 million dollars. Some opponents estimate that only one percent of adverse reactions to drugs can be revealed in tests on animals. They explain that it is difficult to detect the most common symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and blurred vision in animals. Moreover, the life of the most common laboratory animals is up to 66 times shorter than the life of the human being. This fact complicates the prediction of long-term side effects. The scandal around the largest German concern Bayer has once again proved that the difference between the processes in humans and animals organisms negates the utility of testing drugs on animals. 52 people have died due to the administration of drug prior tested on animals. A modern medicine has shown that the medical progress is largely associated with the clinical observations of patients rather than with the experiments on animals. The treatment of diseases such as hepatitis, rheumatic fever and ulcerative colitis has been found in the course of clinical observations (Blackwell, 2014.).

Proponent’s Perspectives

Many proponents sincerely believe that the experiments on animals contribute to the improvement of human health. Opponents claim that they also want to improve the health of humans, but not at the expense of animals. However, some diseases involve processes that can only be studied in living organisms. Therefore, the use of animals is necessary because the use of human beings is impractical or unethical in some cases.
According to scientists, animals are considered to be a perfect research subjects since they are biologically similar to humans. They suffer from similar health problems. Moreover, they life-cycles are short. As a result, scientist can easily study them throughout their whole life-span. In addition, the environment around the animals can be easily controlled what would be more difficult to do with people. The solidest argument is that it is unreasonable to expose human beings to risks instead of animals. Therefore, if a new drug seems effective, it is first must be tested on animals to find out whether the drug is safe. Afterward, human volunteers can take part in the clinical trial of the same drug. A wide range of effective drugs has been firstly tested on animals before being used in medical trials with human volunteers. Hormone treatments for limiting tumor growth have been developed in experiments on chickens, rabbits and mice (Blackwell, 2014.)


Bray, G. (2012). God is love: a biblical and systematic theology. Illinois: Crossway.
Alfaro, V. (2005). Specification of Laboratory Animal Use in Scientific Articles: Current Low Details in the Journal’s Instructions for Authors and some Proposals.
Blackwell, W. (2014). Contemporary moral and social issues: an introduction through original fiction, discussion, and readings. Oxford: Wiley & Songs, Inc. Prous Science. Vol. 27 (7), 495-502.

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