• Question: why cant humans test the medicine and not rats ? is that fair

    Asked by rosie_123xx to Rob, Hannah on 12 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rob Ives

      Rob Ives answered on 12 Jun 2019:

      Hi Rosie. That’s a good question and I’m giving you quite a long answer. I’ll answer the second question first though.

      It isn’t really fair on the rat. The medicine does need to be tested though, so it comes down to what we believe in as humans. Is a human life more important to us than an animals?

      There are thousands of diseases that can make humans and other animals (medicines help animals too) very sick, cause a great amount of pain and even kill us. We need ways to stop ourselves getting ill and to help us get better if we do get ill. We use ‘good drugs’ (medicines) to help us do this. When scientists begin to make new medicines, most of these will not work and most will be poisonous to us so we have to test these medicines to make sure they are safe. One very important part of testing medicines needs them to go into a living animal. We choose to use non human animals as we don’t want to harm a person who might be somebodies family or friend. Once we know a medicine is safe in animals, we then test it in some healthy humans before giving it to patients.

      Finally, in most if not every country in the world, the law says that a new medicine must be tested in at least two different types of animal before they can be given to humans. It’s a shame we need to use animals at all, but at the moment, we do. Hopefully this will change one day.