Pound P., Ebrahim S., Sandercock P., Bracken M. & Roberts I. Where is the evidence that animal research benefits humans? British Medical Journal 2004; 328: 514-517. Download
(115 kb). RELEVANCE
Pound et al. reviewed six systematic reviews examining the extent to which animal experiments had informed human clinical research, and found that, although animal studies are intended to be conducted prior to human clinical trials to test for potential toxicity:
- in two cases clinical trials were conducted concurrently with the animal studies,
- in three cases clinical trials were conducted despite evidence of harm from prior animal studies,
- in the remaining case the outcome of the animal study contradicted the findings of previous investigators, who appeared to have cited only studies that supported their prior views.
Clinicians and the public often consider it axiomatic that animal research has contributed to the treatment of human disease, yet little evidence is available to support this view. Few methods exist for evaluating the clinical relevance or importance of basic animal research, and so its clinical (as distinct from scientific) contribution remains uncertain. Anecdotal evidence or unsupported claims are often used as justification—for example, statements that the need for animal research is “self evident” or that “Animal experimentation is a valuable research method which has proved itself over time.” Such statements are an inadequate form of evidence for such a controversial area of research. We argue that systematic reviews of existing and future research are needed.