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Dr Menache, a veterinarian and president of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (August 2002 JRSM1), questions Professor Patrick Vallance's conclusions2 on the value of animals in biomedical research and the development of new medicines. Menache states that his objections are based on his ‘private research’. Unfortunately we do not have the details of his research which would allow the readers to judge its objectivity and rigour. Vallance's comments are based on an enormous body of peer-reviewed work.
Busy doctors may be spared the onerous task of reviewing these thousands of articles, since an extensive independent review has just been completed. The House of Lords Select Committee on Animals in Scientific Procedures concluded that ‘On balance we are convinced that experiments on animals have contributed greatly to scientific advances, both for human medicine and for animal health. Animal experimentation is a valuable research method which has proved itself over time’ and ‘Toxicological testing in animals is at present essential for medical practice and the protection of consumers and the environment’.
The UK Life Sciences Animal Science Group, which represents over 30 000 biomedical researchers, supports the ethical use of animals in developing new medicines and welcomes the Select Committee's recommendation of further efforts to develop alternatives to animals.