Monday, August 11, 2008

Another animal-tested chemo regime

If you don't know me very well or aren't familiar with animal protection issues, you may wonder why someone who has taken so many pharmaceuticals tested on animals can be against animal research. You may think it's hypocritical.

The truth is that using animals to develop and test drugs is a system that doesn't work very well. It's an old paradigm, one that is fortunately beginning to slowly change. A growing number of forward-thinking scientists are developing some exciting (and more effective) non-animal alternatives. These changes have been inspired partly by concern over animal cruelty but also because animal research and testing have so often failed us.

The basic problem is that animals are not good models for humans. That's why so many drugs that prove effective and safe in dogs, monkeys, or mice end up not working in humans—or actually end up being so dangerous, they have to be taken off the market. Vioxx is just one of many examples.

I'm against animal research for two reasons. My first is because it's horribly cruel. We don't have the right to subject any species—whether it's a mouse or a monkey—to a life of captivity, fear, stress, and pain for our own benefit.

But as a three-time cancer victim, I have another big problem with animal research. Who knows how much farther along we'd be—if we hadn't been sidetracked by miracle cancer cures that worked in mice but don't help humans. It's time for real progress—for animals and humans both.

If you wonder why I take the drugs, even though they've caused animals so much suffering, it's because I can't currently choose a drug that hasn't been tested on animals--and like all living beings ("lab" animals included), I desperately want to live. The current drug approval system doesn't yet acknowledge the superiority of human-focused, nonanimal research and all pharmaceutical companies must use animals to get their drugs approved.

For more information about what's wrong with animal research and what alternatives are currently available, please visit or

Thinking about contributing to a cancer charity in a loved one's name? Find out about cruelty-free medical charities at Helping Humans Doesn't Have to Mean Harming Animals.

P.S. Lounging on the couch with me is Fatty.