One of the critical campaigns of Animal Wellness Action is to ensure the modernization of FDA drug-testing standards, which currently require the suffering and entail the deaths of countless thousands of animals each year. Key to this modernization--and the alleviation of this toll on animals--is to eliminate the requirement in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 for animal testing as the only test method for any new drug development protocol. The pharmaceutical industry is burdened by outdated FDA statutes and regulations that bar the use of faster, cheaper, and more reliable test methods.
Recently, the work has become more challenging. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina has introduced legislation to strip all riders from the bill, leaving just the base funding package for FDA. That maneuver would block key reforms of FDA and keep the status quo when it comes to animal testing.
There is urgency to address the problem because between 90 and 95 percent of drugs found safe in preclinical tests fail during human clinical trials due to toxicities not predicted by traditional animal tests or because of lack of efficacy. This exposes the public to unacceptable risk and stifles the movement of life-saving drugs into the marketplace.
The broader results are extraordinarily high costs for drugs, inordinately long wait periods bringing drugs to market, and, even after the drugs are approved for common use, the potential of serious side effects for consumers. However, significant investments in technology development and research have resulted in transformative breakthroughs in alternative methods, enabling us to leave most animal testing behind.
One of the many organizations also in this fight is PETA. Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at PETA, joins our founder and president Wayne Pacelle to discuss her organization's work to uncover animal abuse related to medical testing, improvements in science such as organs on a chip, and legislative work to ensure passage of the initiative.