It’s a common argument, and one that we’ve probably all heard. “90% of drugs deemed successful in animal studies fail in human clinical trials.” Activists say this to discredit animal-based research and argue that animals are not acceptable models for human disease.
Well… let’s look at the numbers. While it’s true that up to 90% of potential drugs are unsuccessful, that percentage includes drugs that are found to be unsafe using many different methods, including human trials- and many of these are abandoned for reasons unrelated to safety, including cost of development, demand, and litigation. Without animal research, the failure rate would be much higher.
Here’s a fun fact- 86% of drugs that pass Phase I human trials later fail in human tests. But that doesn’t mean that humans are unacceptable models for human disease- it simply means that we’re all different. A drug that is successful in treating one person’s disease could be completely ineffective on their sibling. And this is an excellent argument FOR animal-based research! If researchers only tested new drugs on humans, the variations between individuals would be extremely confounding to study results. But by working with genetically similar animals that are well-understood, disease processes and drug interactions are able to be more accurately documented. Look at the research for yourself- what do YOU think?