March 9th 2016
Opponents of animal testing were vindicated this week by the news that tests on laboratory rats, mice, dogs and monkeys all failed to detect the dangers of a new drug that killed one volunteer in an early-stage trial.
Six others needed emergency hospital treatment after they reacted to a new substance, BIA 10-2474, that treats pain and mood disorders.
Experts in France—where the drug trial took place—say the injuries and death were directly caused by the substance being tested. They emphasised the “astonishing and unprecedented” nature of the accident, which caused a reaction in the brain “unlike anything seen before”.
The investigators from France’s National Agency for Drug Safety want to know why extensive animal testing failed to detect any dangers. The animals suffered no ill effects despite being given doses that were 400 times stronger than those given to the human volunteers.
They are also concerned by the extent of animal testing, which suggests the manufacturer, the Portuguese drug company Bial, may have been worried about the substance’s possible toxicity.
The Biotrial research institute, which was testing the drug, recruited 108 volunteers. Of these, 90 were given the drug, and the rest had a placebo. The seven who suffered severe reactions had been given a 50mg dose.
Why does this not surprise me? It is well known that our physiology differs from that of mice or even monkeys… after all, if it didn’t, we’d be mice or monkeys!
This question of testing on animals is a bit like computer modelling, it can go totally wrong! If you choose to model the wrong things (or forget about an important element), your results are worthless and even dangerous.
1) don’t sign up for a drug trial unless you are not that keen on life.
2) Pharmaceutical companies had better do more “informed” and intelligent testing: it is worrying when they claim they have no idea what went wrong!
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