It is a legal requirement that all medicines are tested on animals, even though animals are not the best predictors of how that drug will work in people, and even though animals don’t get the same diseases we get. It’s an old-fashioned approach, and it needs updating to reflect the far more effective methods and tests currently available. Unfortunately, though, this is the situation we have and it is not likely to change anytime soon. It means that we cannot choose between animal-tested and non-animal-tested medicines. If we could, the choice would be clear.
(Thankfully, the situation is different with regards to cosmetics and some household products, where consumers can boycott animal-tested products and choose cruelty-free ones.)
You may be able to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the ingredients, however. Some medicines are delivered in a gelatin capsule, or in a pill that contains lactose or stearate. It may be there is another option that would allow you to get the same drug without ingesting the animal products. It’s worth asking but the bottom line is this: if you need a drug, please take it.
More conditions than ever before have become medicalised and drugs are often prescribed for conditions where a change in our lifestyle could as much if not more good. If we take better care of ourselves, follow the advice we all know makes sense about smoking, exercise and drinking alcohol, we can keep healthy, and perhaps avoid having to take drugs, all of which have side-effects that can cause other health problems.
And when it comes to diet, choosing a vegan diet will help you avoid some of the nasty diseases that affect our population: cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
If you would like to find out more about the charities that fund non-animal research and promote better, more effective options, you may like to visit Safer Medicines and Animal Free Research (UK), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (US) or Humane Research Australia. The international Lush Prize rewards scientists and campaigners that work to end or replace animal testing.