Sunday, June 04, 2006

How the myth of vivisection is perpetuated: asymmetry between new drugs and withdrawn drugs

Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen can double the risk of a heart attack: this was the warning given by researchers on 1st June 2006 in the UK after the publication of a study by the British Medical Council, which analysed the results of 138 trials involving 140,000 patients.

There is a problem with the perception of drugs by public opinion, which goes to the heart of animal testing and how the myth of its usefulness is perpetuated, with the help of the media.

In a word, the problem is: asymmetry.

There is an asymmetry between the ways new drugs and withdrawn drugs are respectively treated.

When a newly-developed drug is introduced into the market, it is saluted by great media fanfare and at that moment, implicitly or explicitly, an association with the animal research involved in its development is formed in the mind of the public.
“Look at the enormous benefits of animal experiments” is either said directly or somehow this message is tacitly conveyed (after all, “everybody” knows that).

On the other hand, when a drug is found to have serious (or even fatal) side effects and is either withdrawn or warned about, the fact does not make headlines, sometimes is not even mentioned in the news, and in any case there is no equivalent “look at what disasters animal research causes” message trumpeted.

So, an association is formed in the public mind between new, good (because we haven’t yet discovered their harmful effects) drugs and animal testing; but no corresponding association is formed between bad, disastrous or withdrawn drugs and animal testing.

We must not forget that all drugs are extensively tested on animals before being marketed, and therefore every time a drug causes serious problems it is undisputedly a failure of animal experimentation as a method.

No comments: