Animal testing for drugs should not be compulsory, says Paul

Sen. Rand Paul introduces the FDA Modernization Act to end animal testing mandates via a live video feed on his official Facebook page. (Screenshot/Sen. Rand Paul Facebook)

WASHINGTON (KT) – U. S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, introduced legislation in Congress that would eliminate the requirement for animal testing on drugs prior to being used on humans in clinical trials.

During a Thursday press conference in Washington, Paul said he was unaware of the requirement until just a few months ago, which prompted him to file the FDA Modernization Act.

He said when he was in medical school, using chimpanzees in research was at the point of ending. “It was decided they were too close to humans for comfort.  Peoples’ sensibilities change and we don’t do it, and there were some horrific things done.  I think a lot of people feel their dogs and cats are close to humans as well.” 

 

The legislation does not contain an outright ban on the process, Paul said, “but our bill goes a long way toward allowing it to change.  There are scientists who now believe that they can find other ways, that animal testing is not accurate, for safety or efficacy.”

Paul believes chances of passage are good.  “It has bipartisan support in the House, and it has bipartisan support in the Senate.  I think there’s a reasonable chance that we might find something we can pass on a bipartisan, maybe even a unanimous, vote.  We’re going to try.”

In 1938, Congress passed the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, mandating animal toxicity testing.  Since then, science and data have shown that in some products, animal testing is a highly inconsistent predictor of toxic responses in humans, all while animal testing on any single pharmaceutical product often requires killing hundreds of animal test subjects.

Wayne Pacelle, the founder of Animal Wellness Action, said there is a lot of unity on the issue.  “This is a core American value, to oppose cruelty to animals.  It is just a sign of our mercy and decency to care for the least among us in our society.”

Pacelle said the research and testing communities have agreed on what he termed, "The Three Rs."

"Refine techniques to minimize pain and distress; reduce the number of animals and protocols when we can, say from 20 animals to 10; and where available and where methods are validated, replace animals with non-animal technologies."

Parcelle pointed out a prior debate in the cosmetics industry that led to the rabbit symbol on packages indicating no animal testing was performed with the ingredients, formulations or with a finished product.

Pacelle added that the existing framework regarding animal testing is broken because “19 of 20 times, when a drug passes muster in animal tests, it fails in human clinical trials.  That is a disastrous rate of failure.”

 

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