It’s not ordinarily that I report on the actions of bloggers but it was so refreshing to see their immediate responses to a newspaper article by Simon Chaitowitz. Simon Chaitowitz is the former communications director of PCRM – a psuedo-science organisation whose former spokesman was none other than Jerry violence-against-researchers-is-justified Vlasak. Chaitowitz, who is sadly suffering from cancer, appears to infer that her deteriorating health is due to animal researched medications and not from the unfortunate fact that she developed breast cancer. Chemotherapy has some nasty side effects, including a small risk (0.3 – 0.7%) of Myelodisplastic Syndrome, however statistically her chances of overall improved health were much better with chemotherapy than without it. Anyone who has been through surgery will know there is a small chance that you might not wake up again, but the risks are generally worth it.
Her news posting goes on to claim much typical AR misinformation, such as the 90% of drugs fail statistic and claiming that there are no regulations involved for much research. However several bloggers were on hand to dismantle her argument piece by piece. “DrugMonkey“, a biomedical research scientist and blogger, meticulously explains the animal research regulation process, including all the oversight mechanisms he has to obide by while he carries out his research.
The claim that mice are “excluded from any protection” is presumably based on the Helms Amendment. It is indeed true that rats, mice and birds that are bred for research are excluded from the obligatory parts of federal law…but this does not mean that there are not other protections and oversight mechanisms in place that apply to these species. There are in fact many, some of the more important of which are detailed below [see link for what’s “below”]
“Orac” of the widely read Respectful Insolence blog also criticizes Chaitowitz’s claims, furthering some of DrugMonkey’s points, and goes further into looking at the predictive role of animals in research as well as the false claims that we can (apparently) replace such methods with non-animal ones.
If animal models don’t do as well as we would like, the alternatives that they propose either do much worse or are completely unvalidated. For example, cell culture models are in general even less predictive of drug activity than animal models … As for computer models, someday they may indeed decrease the need to use animal models, which, contrary to the animal rights portrayal of scientists as close-minded and cruel animal torturers, virtually all scientists would love to move away from. After all, most of us don’t like doing things that may hurt animals, even mice, and using animals is very expensive and onerous from a regulatory standpoint. Here’s the problem. Computer models are only as good as the assumptions underlying their algorithms and the data used to construct them, and we simply do not understand human physiology at a detailed enough level to obviate the use of animal models. [read the rest here]
You can read more about the animal model, animal welfare in research, and the advantages and disadvantages of current “alternative” methods on this website.
She needs to accept her share of responsibility for the outcomes. Our healthcare system did not hold her down and force her to accept chemo or a stem cell transplant. They were offered and she accepted them. Not only did she have the option not to pursue these treatments, she also had the option to forego medical care altogether.