Jeff Kipling

The director of science and technology at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry responds to Alexei Sayle's recent article about testing on animals
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The Independent Online

It is currently impossible to develop a new medicine without some research on animals, contrary to Alexei Sayle's opinion ("Those who cut up animals deserve a bit of harassment", 5 September). No computer has yet been developed that can simulate the intricate working of the brain, heart, liver or kidneys, let alone their interactions within a body.

It is currently impossible to develop a new medicine without some research on animals, contrary to Alexei Sayle's opinion ("Those who cut up animals deserve a bit of harassment", 5 September). No computer has yet been developed that can simulate the intricate working of the brain, heart, liver or kidneys, let alone their interactions within a body.

Animal research is essential for finding new approaches to treating disease and for evaluating the effects - wanted and unwanted - of new medicines, when those effects cannot be predicted with the use of computer models or test-tube research. Only then is it ethically acceptable to move on to clinical trials on people.

The use of animals is by no means a "cheap" option. It is an expensive and highly regulated process in which the welfare of the animals is a priority.

Every piece of research involving animals is governed by strict British laws, and before it can be carried out, it must be demonstrated that any likely benefits outweigh any adverse effects on the animals used.

Most of us want to do the best for people and animals, but would accept that human health and wellbeing come first. As few animals as possible are used, but if we want to have new and better medicines without taking unacceptable risks with human life, animals will be needed for the foreseeable future.

That being the case, it is wrong for people involved in medicines research to be victims of harassment and violence. Attacks on our scientific community affect not just researchers, but anyone who wants to see the development of new medicines to help people with serious illnesses.

If we end this important research, it is the patients who will suffer the most.

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