The development of a new drug is a costly, complicated business whose tests have long followed a "gold standard" when it comes to clinical trials on humans. It is a surprise that this standard is often not followed when drugs are initially tested on animals. Yet, as a report yesterday to the British Association's Science Festival made clear, these drug trials are fundamentally flawed.
One result is that many efficacy tests on animals appear to make drugs seem better than they are. Some initially indicate an improvement of 50 per cent. But when the study has been carried out properly, the measured improvement falls by half. The drug industry cannot claim animal tests are essential when it funds flawed science. It must be a precondition of funding, and of scientific publication, that studies are properly carried out. Only then can the public feel confident that such animal studies are necessary.