Statement from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on End of Animal Labs in Medical Student Education

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE June 30, 2016
Statement from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on End of Animal Labs in Medical Student Education
From John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., Director of Academic Affairs
"A change 30 years in the making, animals are now belatedly but rightly absent from the process of educating medical students. The last training program in the United States and Canada to use animals in its curriculum has announced its elimination of the misguided practice. The decision by the University of Tennessee’s College of Medicine in Chattanooga ushers in a new era of medical education; students earning their M.D. or D.O. degrees will no longer be asked to use animals in the study of human medicine.
 
"In the past, students were required to participate in laboratory sessions where they were instructed to perform various procedures on live dogs, pigs, or other species, who were killed following the sessions. These procedures included incisions and suturing techniques, airway management, emergency procedures, and drug injections. 
 
"Nonhuman animals have different physiologies and anatomies from humans; they are inadequate and often misleading stand-ins for humans. Training students with animals also gave trainees the false impression that the use of animals was fundamental to the field of science.
 
"Since 1985, in addition to working with schools, students, physicians, celebrities, and lawmakers to improve educational standards, the Physicians Committee has amplified awareness that the use of animals is substandard for medical education. Meanwhile, nonanimal teaching technologies have increased in sophistication, availability, and use. All 44 U.S. medical schools that have opened since 1979 have opted not to use animals in their curricula, instead taking advantage of simulation technologies and other methods that allow for repeated practice, iterative learning, and respect for life—all at a lesser cost.
 
"Regrettably, some advanced medical training programs (surgery and emergency medicine residencies, for example) continue to use animals, despite the availability of superior alternative methods. The Physicians Committee will continue our work in those areas until every institution teaching various domains of human medicine forgoes the use of animals for contemporary, more effective, and more humane approaches."
 

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.