Physicians Oppose Replacing Drowned Animals in Texas Labs
WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is urging the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Texas Medical Center not to replace the 35,000 animals who perished in the recent floods caused by Tropical Storm Allison. In letters sent this morning to the NIH and to the presidents of Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center, the nonprofit organization recommends more modern, effective, human-based research.
"With all that is developing from human gene study, in vitro research, human population studies, and clinical trials, we should take this opportunity to forego animal tests for these preferred methods. We will see more accurate results and avoid such tragedies as the one in Texas," says PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
Dr. Barnard points to the fact that much of Texas Medical Center research focuses on heart disease. While millions of dollars continue to be spent on animal experiments in the names of prevention and treatment, the risk factors that contribute to heart disease were identified in human population studies and tested in human clinical trials. "Animal studies offer no greater insight into this issue," says Dr. Barnard.
A wealth of epidemiological research also addresses the nation's other leading epidemics—obesity, diabetes, and certain cancers. Animal tests often lead researchers astray, delaying progress, or worse, deeming new medications safe that end up harming humans, an invariable risk due to major differences in human and animal physiology.
"It is shocking to see the laboratories' failure to protect these unfortunate animals," Dr. Barnard says. "It would be a mistake to simply restock the labs, neglecting better research methods."
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.