The use of animals for medical research and testing is being subjected to heated debates due to the inability of different stakeholders to strike a balance between the benefits of using the animals and the pain that is subjected to the animals in various scientific medical research. There is indeed substantial evidence that the use of animals for medical research and testing has led to tremendous advancement in the discovery of hugely beneficial drugs and still plays a critical role in the understating of different human diseases.
Additionally, the use of animal testing has also provided an accurate mechanism for validating the effects of various medical and pharmaceutical products on the human body system. Despite the vast benefits of using an animal for medical testing, intensive lobbying is being made by animal rights activists to have the animal research completely abolished because they firmly believe that the pain and cruelty that the experiment does to the animals is entirely unnecessary. This paper, therefore, tries to achieve a middle ground on this vital topic by highlighting some of the benefits of animal testing in medical research and at the same time point out the critical environmental implication of animal testing.
Medical scientists generally would not prefer causing pain and injury to animals if at all the pain can be prevented. Most scientists concur that animals research and testing should be undertaken within a strict ethical framework which involves a detailed assessment of the potential effect to the animal before the testing ( Matthiensen et al. 2003). Animal testing and research remains very critical to the advancement of research in pharmaceutical and medical sector.
This assertion was confirmed by the survey that was carried out by medical general practitioners 2006. In this survey, it was established that 96% of medical and pharmaceutical research experts believe that animal testing has significantly contributed to the research and discovery of drugs. The survey further affirms that 88% of medical doctors prefer pharmaceutical drugs to be tested on animals first before tried on human beings. This is to identify with high accuracy the potential effects of the pharmaceutical drugs before trying it on the human body( Gannon, 2007).
Secondly, animal testing is significant in obtaining accurate medical research data that has been used to determine with the highest accuracy the potential effect of various drugs on the human body system. An expert survey by European for medical progress denoted that 84% of pharmaceutical and medical experts believes that use of animal testing has resulted into more accurate results which have led to the discovery of medicines that are potentially beneficial to the human being. Similar research by General practitioners also confirms that the use of animal research and testing improves the reliability and accuracy of medical research data (Gannon, 2007).
Also, the use of animal research and testing has been confirmed to be very affordable and speeds up the medical research process. For example, the massive amount of investments that have been made by various pharmaceutical companies in discovering alternative methods of medical research and testing. The findings from these pharmaceutical companies have proven that alternative technologies that can suitably replace animal testing are costly and requires a lot of time for testing.
Even in regulatory toxicology that is usually straightforward, the alternative technologies needed more than 20 tests to determine the potential risks and effects of new substances. Additionally, the introduction of alternative technologies requires validating and authentication by relevant organizations some of which are international accreditation institutions. The process of approving and certifying the non-animal techniques is always bureaucratic and not favorable to the dynamics within the medical research environment that at times requires a speedy process (Frame, 2005).
Lastly, the use of animal testing can be justified in specific research by weighing out the potential benefits against the costs and effects of such medical research. This is especially true in scenarios where the risks of the new drugs to human beings outweighs the pain caused to animals to address the potential risks. Also, the use of animal testing and research can be justified when the new pharmaceutical drug is potentially impactful to human beings. For example, drugs used in the treatment of malaria and cancer that are currently prevalent in the world. In these cases, the use of animal testing is thus recommended since the benefits are much higher than the pain exposed to the animals.
In conclusion, we as human beings have a responsibility to protect the animals since that is what defines us as humans. On the other hand, developing drugs to tackle certain diseases requires the use of animals for testing which makes specific animal testing experiments morally ethical. Based on these two extremes- the need to obtain accurate medical research data on certain drugs and the imperative duty of animal protection- we need to be pragmatic and strike a balance. Animal research and testing will only be justifiable if there is great precaution undertaken not to harm or expose the animals to unnecessary cruelty. Medical scientists therefore has responsibility of ensuring that any animal that they use for research should be protected. Additionally, further research on reduction and replacement technologies will reduce the use of animal for medical research and testing to only very necessary experiments where the use of animals is inevitable (Flint 2005).