Study Shows Dramatic Decline in Use of Live Animals, Especially Dogs, in Medical Education
LA JOLLA, Calif.—A new study appearing in Academic Medicine documents the continued decline in the use of dogs and other live animals in medical school laboratories. In physiology courses, live animals were used in 39 percent of U.S. medical schools in 1994 but dropped to 18 percent in 2001. Similarly, live animal use in pharmacology courses has dropped from 10 percent to 5 percent. The study is entitled “Use of Live Animals in the Curricula of U.S. Medical Schools: Survey Results from 2001.”
“Our study shows that the use of live animals, especially dogs, in medical education has continued to decline in the seven years since the last published survey,” says lead author Larry A. Hansen, M.D., a professor at University of California, San Diego, La Jolla. “Much of the impetus for replacing animal laboratories with nonlethal alternatives comes from a new generation of medical students with more natural empathy for the suffering of animals. High-tech alternatives, such as computer simulations and videos, get high ratings from teachers and students alike.”
Overall, the majority of U.S. medical schools (68 percent) do not use live animals in any of their pharmacology, physiology or surgery courses, and when live animal laboratories are used, attendance is usually optional.
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.
Jeanne S. McVey
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