Animal Rights

Lemons and Animal Models

| by Dr Ray Greek

According to the press release “Pharmaceuticals: A market for producing 'lemons' and serious harm” from the American Sociological Association:

The pharmaceutical industry is a "market for lemons," a market in which the seller knows much more than the buyer about the product and can profit from selling products less effective and less safe than consumers are led to believe . . . "Sometimes drug companies hide or downplay information about serious side effects of new drugs and overstate the drugs' benefits," said Donald Light, the sociologist who authored the study and who is a professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. "Then, they spend two to three times more on marketing than on research to persuade doctors to prescribe these new drugs. Doctors may get misleading information and then misinform patients about the risks of a new drug. It's really a two-tier market for lemons" . . . According to his study, independent reviewers found that about 85 percent of new drugs offer few if any new benefits. Yet, toxic side effects or misuse of prescription drugs now make prescription drugs a significant cause of death in the United States.

Part of the blame for the above must be placed on using animals as predictive models for humans. For example:

According to an AP article, drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. had to stop their trials for semagacestat, an anti-Alzheimer’s drug, because the patients taking it fared worse than the ones on placebo. It worked well in animals. It made the disease worse and appears to have increased the risk of skin cancer in humans.

Make no mistake, scientists use animal models as predictive modalities and sell the use of animals to society on that basis. Note the following.

Scientists are touting the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells to treat Parkinson's in rodents

The research, which validates a scalable protocol that the same group had previously developed, can be used to manufacture the type of neurons needed to treat the disease and paves the way for the use of iPSC's in various biomedical applications.

Research with female mice has caused the scientists to conclude that:                                   

A very aggressive disease with a poor prognosis [in humans], gallbladder cancer may be connected to higher exposure to estrogens, according to a group of researchers at the University of Houston (UH) . . . There are many crucial clinical implications resulting from these findings. First, drugs that decrease the level of estrogens might be added to the conventional treatment of gallbladder cancer. And, in the long term, pharmacological activators of LXRβ could become potential new anti-cancer drugs that may reduce or regulate the proliferation of gallbladder cells.

Scientists studied animals to find out why humans become addicted to cocaine:

A major goal of drug abuse research is to understand why certain individuals make the switch from casual to compulsive drug use and develop into addicts. Periods of easy access to the drug, along with repeated overconsumption, can quickly trigger the emergence of addiction-like abnormalities in animal models. In the new study, the scientists first looked at the expression of MeCP2 in the brain [of rats] after exposure to cocaine. They found that expression was increased in those animals given extended access to the drug.

Scientists have studied a different virus in monkeys in order to determine how to prevent humans from HIV:

The finding may help explain why SIV and HIV lead to AIDS in other types of monkeys and nonhuman primates and in humans, according to the researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta.

From The New York Times article on brain trauma resembling degenerative diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease:

“If we can create this in laboratory mice, which are easily genetically altered and breed quickly, we can learn about the pathogenesis of this disorder, and then provide treatment,” Dr. McKee [director of the neuropathology laboratory for the New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers] said.

Clearly scientists equate what happens in a mouse or other animal with what happens in a human. Using animals as predictive models is simply bad science and continues solely for money and ego.

(For more on the above please read Animal Models in Light of Evolution.)