In the 1950s thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant mothers to alleviate morning sickness. Unfortunately helping with the symptoms of morning sickness wasn’t the only effect that this drug had on humans.
Something no one had predicted happened – Thousands of these pregnant woman taking thalidomide gave birth to malformed babies. Many of these babies were born with malformed limbs that were either not developed properly or were presented as stumps.
“Thalidomide has not only affected the survivors, it has affected the survivor’s siblings, their parents and their children. So you don’t just have a thalidomide baby – you have a thalidomide family.”
How does the thalidomide disaster relate to animal experimentation?
Before the drug was given to humans, it was tested on numerous animals first. These tests showed no direct adverse effects. People who are pro-animal testing often say that further animal studies could have prevented this catastrophe – this just isn’t true!
After thousands of malformed babies were born researchers started conducting tests on pregnant animals to see if they would cause any similar malformations.
Out of the many different species tested on, the same side effects that occurred in humans finally occurred in the offspring of the White New Zealand Rabbit (Only at 25-300 times the dose given to humans). The same effects were also eventually shown in newborn monkeys after their mothers were given ten times the dose of thalidomide given to humans. But no such birth defects occurred in the majority of the species tested on.
This just goes to show how much of a gamble animal-based research is — what species do we believe will react the same as humans?
We think the future of human health is worth more than animal testing. Human based research is where all of our resources and efforts should be focused so we can better protect ourselves from disasters like this one. If you’re pro-human health then you are also anti-animal experimentation.