Animal testing - the facts and the figures

Amid the furore and frenzy, it is easy to lose sight of the facts in the animal rights debate. So here is the reality of vivisection in the UK. Report by Jonathan Brown

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The Independent Online

The regulations

*All testing involving animals in the United Kingdom is licensed by the Home Office

*Research is governed primarily under the 1986 Animal Procedures Act. There are European Union directives covering testing and treatment of animals as well as individual industry best-practice agreements.

*The Government stopped publishing details of animal testing licences in 1986. It plans to begin publishing anonymous summaries of the licences in the autumn.

*Less than 10 per cent of biomedical research uses animals.

*The numbers of experiments peaked in 1976, when five million procedures were carried out.

*According to the most recent Home Office statistics, 2.73 million animals were used in tests in 2002.

*That was an increase of 110,000 on the previous year (4.2 per cent).

*BUAV estimates 100 million animals are used in testing worldwide. Between 10 million and 11 million were used in the European Union. The UK is the largest user in the EU.

*Animals bred for research but subsequently killed as "surplus" - of which campaigners claim there are millions - are not included in statistics.

*In order to gain a licence the Government evaluates the "severity banding" of individual proposals. Those bands are divided into mild, moderate and severe suffering. That is weighed against the eventual benefits of the experiment to humans.

 

The medicine   

*All drugs licensed for use in Britain have been tested on animals.

*The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry estimates it takes between 10 and 12 years to develop a new medicine and costs £350m.

*The industry invested £3.2bn in UK research in 2002, accounting for nearly a quarter of all industrial research and development.

*Pharmaceutical exports were £10.03bn last year, a trade surplus of £2.6bn.

*Some 70,000 people are employed in the pharmaceuticals industry, with 250,000 other jobs in related industries.

*Twelve of the medicines most prescribed by GPs were created in Britain.

*In its defence, the pharmaceutical industry estimates that individual medicines now cost 12 per cent less in real terms than they did 10 years ago. But the total NHS drugs bill has more than doubled from £3bn to £6bn.

 

The cosmetics   

*Testing of cosmetics on animals was outlawed in Britain in two phases between 1997-98.

*Campaigners say animal research for cosmetics is now done overseas, much in the US.

*Household products are still tested on animals in Britain. In the Draize Eye Test, irritants are dripped into the eyes of rabbits.

*Non-toxic procedures account for 82 per cent of all animal tests in Britain.

*Of toxicological tests last year, 61 per cent were for pharmacological safety and efficiency.

*The Medical Research Council applies the three Rs in funding animal research: reducing the number used in study, replacing animals in experiments, and refining tests to minimise suffering.

*Estimates show 38,000 animals are killed in the EU in cosmetic tests. As of 2013, marketing animal-tested cosmetics will be banned in Europe.

 

The animals  

 *Mice, rats and other rodents account for 84 per cent of the total animals used in British experiments.

*The remainder comprise birds (5 per cent) and fish (7 per cent). Dogs, cats, horses and primates account for less than 1 per cent of the procedures.

*The number of procedures using non-human primates last year was 3,977, nine fewer than the previous year.

*Research with great apes - gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos - was banned in 1998.

*The use of primates is the most controversial area of animal testing policy. The most commonly used ones are marmosets and macaques.

*The Medical Research Council (MRC) which provides public funds for animal research do not normally support work using wild-caught primates. Any used should be from captive-bred sources in Britain.

 

The testers   

*Universities perform most experiments, about 40 per cent, followed by commercial companies (37 per cent), charities (6 per cent), and Government departments (5 per cent). Most universities have animal-testing facilities. Main ones are Oxford and Cambridge. Both have met opposition in building primate research laboratories. Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Surrey and Strathclyde are also among main testers.

*Huntingdon Life Sciences, in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, tests household cleaners, paints and food colourings as well as pharmaceuticals. It uses rodents, rabbits, dogs and monkeys

*Covance, in North Yorkshire, tests for pharmaceuticals and non-drug testing on all types of animals.

*Wickham Labs Ltd, based in Hampshire, uses smaller animals for non pharmaceutical products.

*Quintiles Ltd, in Edinburgh, tests a wide range of products on animals including dogs.

*Inveresk, Edinburgh-based, tests a wide range of products on a range of animals including dogs.

*Safepharm, in Derbyshire, mainly tests chemicals & household products on smaller animals.

*BIBRA (British Industrial Biological Research Association), in Surrey, specialises in testing food additives.

*Many hospitals perform animal tests, including Northwick Park Hospital, North London Guy's & St Thomas's Hospital, London, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Bristol Royal Infirmary.

 

 

For animal testing

Caroline Richmond Cancer sufferer

"I was among the first people to have monoclonal antibody therapy which was tested on mice in the 1990s. I would not be alive today without animal research."

Diane Gracey MS sufferer

"Obviously, I have got a vast interest in them finding a cure for MS but we need animal research for Alzheimer's, Aids, motor-neurone syndrome, muscular dystrophy and cancer. I support research."

Colin Blakemore Medical Research Council

"There are still things that must be studied in a living organism, and the MRC believes animal experiments are essential in the fight against Aids, cancers and genetic and psychiatric disease."

AG Lafley, chairman, Procter & Gamble

"We are proud of our leadership in the development and adoption of alternatives to animal testing. We are committed to making progress that can eliminate the need for animal testing."

Lord Winston, Imperial College

"There needs to be clearer communication for the public about how valuable it is. Many people have no idea what's going on because so few scientists are prepared to put their head above the parapet."

Anonymous molecular biology PhD student

"When I started working on animals, I thought vivisection was absolutely necessary. I still do believe it is necessary but I am less comfortable with the moral issues."

 

Against animal testing

Robert Cogswell Spokesman, Speak

"There is a misconception that animal-rights activists are anti-science. We're pro-science but anti using animals for humans. This is not the cutting edge of medical research.''

Robin Webb, spokesman, Animal Liberation Front

"This is the ultimate liberation struggle, to free all individuals, irrespective of race, gender or species. It's about respect for the individual. Each individual should be allowed to live their life in the way nature intended."

Wendy Higgins, BUAV

"A few years ago, the Government banned great ape experiments, a token gesture because no great ape experiments had been done in the UK for 20 years. Britain still remains the monkey-killing capital of Europe."

Greg Avery, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty

"We're against violence on human beings and animals. There's been a lot of media hysteria. People need to look at the facts. It's a funny terrorist organisation which hasn't killed anyone."

Andrew Tyler, director, Animal Aid

"We condemn all violence against animals and people but there are high levels of frustration. No one died animal protesting, except three animal-rights advocates. How can we be terrorists?"

Bob Combes, director, Frame

"We want to replace all animal experimentation, but an immediate ban isn't the answer. You have to have safe and effective products and good-quality medical research."

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