Calling all animal researchers & toxicologists - reliability question

greenrd at hotmail.com greenrd at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 8 13:13:07 EST 1999


I have a simple question. The reason I ask is because some antivivisectionists
have gone so far as to claim that "no drug safety or efficacy results can be
reliably extrapolated from any species to any other species".

My question: Where are the published, peer-reviewed studies that falsify this
claim?

To be more precise: Can anyone supply a references for repeated studies which
demonstrate a reliable correlation between the toxicity and/or efficacy of
drugs used to treat several laboratory-induced diseases in one species, with
the toxicity and/or efficacy of those same drugs used to treat corresponding
"naturally-induced" (i.e. not laboratory-induced) diseases in another?

Several obvious points should be apparent: Post-hoc reviews of previous
studies are likely to be invalid, because they would have to ignore
unpublished studies - besides which, "approximately 1% of papers published in
medical journals are scientifically sound", so they would have to be very
careful about which ones they chose. Testing only one drug is far too
selective - what is really at issue here is whether species-extrapolation is
scientifically valid as a general deductive step, not whether there are
correlations in the cases of particular drugs. Testing only drugs that are
already known to demonstrate a correlation would also be selective, not to
mention pointless since the results are a foregone conclusion (that's
assuming that the original trials were sound, which is doubtful - see
quotation above). Examining only laboratory-induced diseases in both species
would do nothing to falsify another key claim of the antivivisectionists:
that laboratory-induced diseases are *inherently* unscientific models of
"naturally-induced" diseases. (Well, they might have to make an exception for
radiation poisoning, say, which in *one* sense of the word is
"naturally-induced" - in another sense it is highly unlikely to be, being
caused by nuclear bombs etc.)

I suspect there are no such studies, and I suspect this is because those
antivivisectionists are absolutely right. If there are no such studies, then
tell me, on what scientific evidence is species-extrapolation based? Please
don't fob me off with talk of "anatomical and physiological similarities" -
the scientific route is clear - in order to prove that it is reliable to
extrapolate in such a manner, one must demonstrate a reasonably high
correlation, by means of repeated, well-controlled, blind, unbiased,
peer-reviewed studies.

One might argue that we don't even require proof that an extrapolation from
*human* clinical trial groups to the potential market of a human drug, a
market which may span much of the world population geographically, is valid.
To which I say, indeed, good point. That children and adults often react
differently to treatments is well-known - what other variations are there
that we don't know about, or choose to ignore for the sake of profit?

--
Robin Green
dmoz.org/profiles/greenrd.html

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