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Another drug testing disaster

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Time to reanalyse the use of animals in testing

This week news of deaths caused by patients taking a test drug called Pacritinib has hit the headlines. 

The drug was being tested to treat a rare blood cancer called myelofibrosis. Sadly, volunteers in locations across the world have suffered from brain haemorrhages or heart failure. And several people have died, including one Britain. The phase III trial has now been halted according to The Sunday Times.

This comes after more details of the French Bial drug disaster came to light last week. In this phase I trial, one person tragically died and four others suffered brain haemorrhages testing an experimental drug for treating pain and anxiety.

Worryingly, the French authorities are refusing to release more information about the drug and its testing.   There are unconfirmed reports that chimpanzees and dogs were used in animal tests first.  There are also reports that the dogs became ill and died during the experiments.

Cruelty Free International scientists have published three papers utilising the largest publicly available database on animal tests for new drugs. Our papers found damning results for the scientific value of using animals in tests for human drugs.

Our most recent paper shows that testing the effects of drugs on one animal doesn’t reliably predict what would happen to any other. And drug tests on dogs and monkeys are just as poor as those using any other species in predicting the effects on humans.

Cruelty Free International CEO Michelle Thew says, “We are deeply saddened to hear news of a second drugs trial disaster.  The pharmaceutical industry urgently needs to rethink its position on animal testing.  All drugs are animal tested before human clinical trials, yet 95% of drugs fail in these trials.  Recent events bring into stark reality that sometimes these failures can be catastrophic to the volunteers involved. A failure to look at why drugs are still tested on animals fails not only them but also patient safety and wellbeing.”