Getting Down to the Science!

Find out why animal experimentation is scientifically flawed

Vivisection isn’t just barbaric because of the high level of suffering and pain that it inflicts on animals but also because it acts under the false guise of being for the greater good of human health. 


The Doctors Against Animal Experiments Germany had this clip created called "The Failure of Animal Experiments."

Each year millions of animals suffer and die in the labs around the world. All this is always justified by pointing out the benefits for people. But if you take a closer look at these animal experiments, then their benefits look doubtful, because these animals are not humans.... This short animated film explains why animal experiments are scientifically the wrong way of research.



To help explain the many scientific issues involved with animal-based research, we wanted to tell you our top five reasons for being anti-vivisection: 

Our Top Five Reasons for Being Anti-Vivisection!


1. Mice, rats and other animals are not accurate models for predicting the human response

Due to the large number of differences between species, including genetic, physiological, metabolic and psychological, animal-based research is far less reliable than flipping a coin! In reality, animal models can be used only as analogies for human systems.1
Different species often react differently to the same drugs or treatments. Penicillin is a great example. 
Penicillin can be:
- Fatal for guinea pigs and Syrian hamsters 2
- Effective in mice 3
- Metabolised too quickly in rabbits 4
- Teratogenic in rats (causes limb malformations in offspring)5
- Effective in humans 
With such a variety of reactions to penicillin in many different species, how do we know which animal model will be predictive for humans? This is one of the many issues in using animals to model human responses. Human-relevant research would provide a much more accurate result.
Only 5 in 5,000 compounds that enter preclinical drug safety testing make it to human trials, and only 1 of those five may be proven to be safe and effective enough to reach pharmacy shelves.6 This is a success rate of 0.02%.
Here are a few examples of research conducted using animals that demonstrate that animals do not reliably predict the human response:
Animal Experimentation is Ineffective for Cancer Research: In 1971, the ‘War on Cancer’ was announced in the U.S.A. An overwhelming amount of animal-based cancer research has occurred since but has unfortunately not prevented cancer from continuing to be a significant threat to human health.6
Animal Experimentation is Ineffective for HIV and AIDS Research: HIV researchers have developed 90 vaccines that protect non-human animals from HIV infection; none of these vaccines are effective in humans. 7 Useful AIDS research has been advanced in the vast majority of cases due to the use of human models.8
Animal Experimentation is Ineffective for Stroke Research: Between 1993 and 2003, researchers developed fourteen neuroprotective treatments that were effective in non-human animals. All fourteen were ineffective in human patients.9
Animal Experimentation is Ineffective for Spinal Cord Injury Research: In a systematic review of animal-based research conducted to determine the viability of treatments for spinal cord injury, authors found that the highly variable results of the animal studies meant that human responses were impossible to predict. 10 
Animal Experimentation is Ineffective for Diabetes Research: Despite a considerable amount of literature published about type 2 diabetes (over 50 articles on rodent experimentation per month for the last 30 years) there are few treatments available for humans, and none of these prolongs life expectancy for patients 11. NOTE: In 2014, an estimated 422 million people had diabetes worldwide, which is 8.5% of the global population. 12 It is vital that relevant, human-based models are utilised for diabetes research.
Animal experimentation is ineffective for sepsis research: 150 cures developed for sepsis infections have been successful in mice. All of these failed and even caused the infection to worsen in some cases when used in humans.13

2. Animal-based research hurts humans too!

Results from animal-based research are misleading when they are applied to humans and can lead to adverse effects in human clinical trials.
Unfortunately, these unforeseen side effects can even be fatal to people. Adverse drug reactions that weren't predicted in animal trials have been recorded as the 4th-6th leading cause of death in US hospitals.14
In March 2006, six human volunteers were injected with the experimental drug, TGN1412, which had previously been tested on mice, rats, rabbits and monkeys with no adverse effects.15For the human volunteers, the drug produced the opposite effect and several were left with permanent organ damage. 
In 2003, trials of an Alzheimer’s vaccine cured the disease in “Alzheimer’s mice.” The trial had to be stopped after the substance caused brain inflammation in humans.16
See many more cases where animal experimentation has gone wrong in the table below.

3. Misleading results from animal-based research may cause us to discard treatments that could help humans.

Therapies that were nearly abandoned due to misleading results from animal-based research include Tamoxifen (one of our most effective drugs against certain types of breast cancer), which caused liver tumours in rats.17 
The now-highly-regarded leukaemia drug Gleevec caused severe liver toxicity in dogs.18 Fortunately, the manufacturers persisted with the development of this drug because it seemed so promising in human cell culture tests. 
Approximately 95% of experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in humans based on laboratory and animal studies.19 We can only imagine how many of these could be useful human treatments if they weren’t tested on the wrong model first!

4. Time, money and other resources wasted on animal-based research could be directed into more relevant human-based tests.

The average cost to develop a new drug is USD 2.558 billion,20 and if proven effective, can take 12 years to reach human patients.21
Time and time again, misleading results from animal-based research have resulted in findings that aren’t useful for humans. No wonder it takes so long and costs so much to get a useful drug onto shelves!
It took over thirty years of diabetes research using rodents before “we” discovered that the internal structure and function of the human pancreatic islet cell, which is central to the development of diabetes, is dramatically different from that in the “well-studied rodent”.22
One of the researchers, Per-Olof Berggren, adjunct professor at the Diabetes Research Institute and professor at the Rolf Luft Center for Diabetes Research at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, stated that:
“We can no longer rely on studies on mice and rats. It is now imperative that we focus on human islets. At the end of the day, it is the only way to understand how they function.” 23
AIDS/HIV research has been carried out on non-human primates for decades, yet all of approximately 90 HIV vaccines that succeeded in animals failed in humans.24
Cancer research using rodents has proven over the past 30 + years, to be a massive waste of time. Even the head of America’s most prominent cancer institute has admitted so. “We have cured mice of cancer for decades – and it simply didn’t work in humans.” Dr Richard Klausner, former director of the US National Cancer Institute 25
To help humans, we need to shift towards more relevant and accurate human-based research. Read more about these better methods HERE

5. Animal experimentation is cruel

Although there are many scientific problems with animal-based research, it is also important to point out the ethical issues involved.
Because it’s legal, many people believe that the animals used in animal experiments won’t feel any pain or fear. This belief is not true.
Experiments are permitted by animal ethics committees that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.
From rats being force-fed ecstasy as an attempt to measure drug addiction in humans, to live pigs being shot in the head to try and replicate blood spatter patterns in humans, the pain and fear that animals are made to endure is unjust. 
Non-human animals are now recognised as sentient beings in New Zealand law.26 Sentient beings deserve a life free from fear and pain.
Join NZAVS and help us create a better world for both humans and animals!
Become an NZAVS Animal Advocate HERE


Other Dangerous Drugs

With 9/10 experimental drugs failing in humans that have worked in animals, it is no surprise that there are many examples where humans have had unexpected responses to drugs due to misleading animal experiments.  

Here is a list of cases where animal experiments have failed to predict the human response (This is not a complete list, it is just a few of the many examples):






To treat heart failure

Caused thrombocytopenia - a lack of blood cells needed for clotting in 20% of patients taking the drug on a long-term basis.


An antipsychotic

Caused neuroleptic malignant syndrome – fever, confusion, disorientation, muscle rigidity, profuse sweating and autonomic instability.


Beta blocker, treatment for high blood pressure.

Associated with 26% higher risk of stroke compared to newer drugs.


Type 2 diabetes

Caused weight gain, bone fractures and heart disease.


A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic agent.

Potent phototoxic drug in elderly persons.


A coronary vasodilator

Acute uric acid build up in the kidneys.

BIA 10- 2474

Pain relief and anxiety treatment

Volunteers in a Phase I clinical trial hospitalised with brain damage. One person died. January 2016.


Cox 2 inhibitor, arthritis painkiller

Risk of heart attack, weight gain, abdominal pain, headache, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, nausea, kidney failure, fainting, blurred vision, allergic reactions, chest pain, ringing in ears, intestinal bleeding etc


Treatment for high blood cholesterol

Muscle toxicity


Gastrointestinal stimulant

Disorders of heart rhythm, headaches, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea and abdominal pain.


Ingredient in anti-diarrhoea drugs

At least 10,000 people, and possibly up to 30,000, fell victim to SMON (subacute myelo-optic neuropathy), a disease that causes numbness, weakness in the legs, paralysis, eye problems including blindness, all due to nerve damage.


Anti psychotic

Seizures, shaking hands, fainting, loss of bladder control, confusion, changes in vision, fever, severe muscle stiffness, sweating, changes in behaviour, sore throat, unusual bleeding or bruising, loss of appetite, upset stomach, yellowing of skin or eyes, flu-like symptoms, lack of energy.


Weight loss

Cardiovascular side effects

Diethylstilbestrol (DES)

A synthetic estrogen prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriage

Increased spontaneous abortions, premature births and neonatal deaths. Increased risk of vaginal cancer in daughters and granddaughters of users.


Treat symptoms of stomach disorders

Headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, nervousness, flushing, irritability, hot flushes, trouble sleeping, leg cramps, chest pain, slow/fast heartbeat, discharge from breasts, swelling of feet and ankles, difficulty urinating, menstrual changes, sexual problems.


Antiemetic & antipsychotic

Spasms of the face, disorders of heart rhythm.


Treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Hypersensitivity reaction, sepsis, tuberculosis, reactivation of hepatitis B, malignancy, haematological reactions, autoimmunity, seizures and heart failure

Enzyme-inducing antiepileptic medicines


Reduced bone mineral density and subsequent increased risk of fractures.


Treatment for heart conditions

Found to cause severe eye damage, including blindness. 23 deaths. Over a 1000 patients received compensation for the damage it caused.


Blood thinner to treat thrombosis

Causes long-term liver damage.


Reduces the amount of cholesterol and fatty substances in the blood.

Rapid onset of depression, hives, rashes, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of the face, lips, ankles, throat, legs, hands eyes and tongue, upset stomach, tiredness, unusual bleeding and bruising, lack of energy, loss of appetite, chills, chest pain.


Anti-obesity medication

Heart valve disease, pulmonary hypertension.



Caused disorders of heart rhythm


Rheumatoid arthritis treatment

Hypersensitivity reaction, sepsis, severe reactions occurred with patients who had tuberculosis or hep B or lupus, can cause swelling, shortness of breath, chills, flu symptoms, weight loss, fever, patchy skin, chest pain, coughing up blood, easy bruising, pale skin, unusual weakness.


Non steroidal Anti inflammatory (Ibuprofen)

Caused severe liver damage.

Kava kava

Herbal remedy for stress and anxiety

Liver toxicity


Anti-inflammatory disease modifying anti-rheumatic

Hepatotoxicity, nausea, diarrhoea, hair loss, flu-like symptoms, mild dizziness, chest pain, back pain, sore mouth, muscle cramping, numbness/tingling sensations.


Treatment for opium addiction

Withdrawn, caused severe cardiac disorders.


Anabolic Steroid

Enlargement of male breasts, water retention, oily skin, acne, unwanted body hair, aggression, male pattern baldness, liver damage.


Treatment of Glaucoma

Severe eye irritation or inflammation, slow heartbeat or chest pain.


Treatment of high blood pressure

Abdominal pain, belching, heartburn, stomach discomfort, flushing, headache, nausea, vomiting, pounding heart, stuffy nose, dizziness, lightheadedness, swelling legs, unusual tiredness.

Mumps vaccine

Prevention of mumps

Allergic reactions – difficulty in breathing or swallowing, hives, itching, reddening of the skin, swelling of eyes, face or inside of nose, unusual tiredness or weakness. Other side effects include bruising or purple spots on the skin, confusion, fever, headache, irritability, pain, tenderness, swelling of testicles, stiff neck and vomiting.

Naftidrofuryl oxalate injection

Treatment for the disorder of blood flow to the brain

Cardiotoxicity, rash, inflammation of liver, nausea, stomach pain.



Linked to kidney failure, anaemia and death


Treatment for osteoporosis 

Withdrawn from development in September 2016 due to high risk of atrial fibrillation and stroke. 


Anti psychotic

Confusion, sluggishness, fever, disorientation, muscle rigidity, spasms, profuse sweating, autonomic instability, swelling of face, breathing problems, uncontrollable chewing and arm and leg movements, loss of memory, nervousness.


Arthritis drug.

Found to be highly toxic to humans, with 3,500 reports of harmful effects including 61 British deaths, mainly through liver damage in the elderly.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory

Stomach ulceration and death


Treatment for the rare blood cancer called myelofibrosis 

Trials halted in February 2016 as a number of volunteers taking part died from brain haemorrhages or heart failure. 


Antidepressant and anxiety treatment

Suicidal ideation, serotonin syndrome, bipolar mania or hypomania, schizophrenia, jaw / neck and back muscle spasms, fever, chills, sore throat and flu-like symptoms, jaundice, GI bleeding, fetal defects, withdrawal syndrome, headache, weight loss, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, drowsiness, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, tremor, vertigo, dizziness.


ADHD, and narcolepsy

Liver toxicity

phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory

Gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney damage, oral lesions, internal haemorrhage, decreased appetite, excessive thirst, suppression of white blood cell production, aplastic anaemia.


Angina pectoris

Depletes myocardial catecholamine stores


Short-acting general anaesthetic

Withdrawn due to causing anaphylactic reactions

Pulmonary surfactant

To increase pulmonary compliance

Increased mortality.


Antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). Also used in autistic children to treat symptoms of irritability.

Increased risk of strokes and death in elderly dementia patients, seizures, major weight gain, an onset of diabetes and potentially fatal high blood sugar.

Ritalin and Dexamphetamine

Treatment of ADHD, especially in children.

Children as young as five suffered strokes, heart attacks, hallucinations and convulsions, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, hair loss, muscle spasms, severe abdominal pain, tremors, insomnia, severe weight loss, depression and paranoia.


Anti psychotic

Cardiac arrhythmias also caused some deaths


Control hypercholesterolemia & prevent cardiovascular disease

17 % patients died between December 2005 and February 2006. Common side effects include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, indigestion, weakness. Less common – joint pain, memory loss and muscle cramps


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.

Caused kidney toxicity, withdrawn from the market.



Death, low blood sugar, hemolytic anaemia, other blood cell abnormalities, kidney dysfunction resulting in renal dialysis, liver dysfunction, allergic reactions causing life-threatening respiratory distress.


Treatment of urinary incontinence

Cardiac arrhythmias


A sedative and to treat morning sickness in pregnant women.

Found to cause damage to the human foetus, resulting in 10,000 children born crippled and deformed with missing limbs.


Treatment of inflammatory conditions (especially rheumatism) and leukemia

Volunteers in a clinical trial suffered poor breathing, heavy swelling of neck and head, organ failure


Treatment of Parkinsons disease

Life-threatening liver disease


Treatment of hypercholesterolemia

Up to 82 known deaths reported worldwide.


Used to prevent blood loss during surgery

Kidney problems, heart attacks and strokes






Causes liver damage, resulted in 28 deaths and seven liver transplants.



Acute liver failures and deaths.


Painkiller for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis

Increased risk of cardiovascular events.


Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory

Life-threatening heart or circulation problems, including heart attack or stroke.


Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome

Studies have shown a link to heart attacks and strokes.



Linked to Guillain Barre syndrome, liver damage


Short-term treatment of insomnia

Possible death or coma from an overdose, anterograde amnesia, hallucinations, delusions, ataxia and poor motor coordination, increased appetite, decreased libido, altered thought patterns, extroversion.


Arthritis treatment & anti-inflammatory drug to treat postoperative pain

Deaths and severe allergic reactions.

Table provided by our friends at Humane Research Australia 


You can also read other good examples in the Animal Aid, Scientific Case Against the use of Animals in Biomedical Research


1 Gregory, Public Affairs Quarterly, 2000, p. 166.
2 Harare et al., American Journal of Medical Sciences, 1943, p. 642; Schneierson and Perlman, Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1956, p. 229.
3 Florey, Conquest, 1953.
4 Greek, 2014 .
5 United States Food and Drug Administration,
6 Gregory, Public Affairs Quarterly, 2000, p. 165. 
7 Akhtar, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare and Ethics, 2015, p. 412.
8 Gregory, Public Affairs Quarterly, 2000, p. 165-6.
9 Curry, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 2003, p. 69.
10 Akhtar, Pippin and Sandusky, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 2009, p. 55.
11 Chandrasekera and Pippin, Alternatives to Animal Experimentation, 2013, pp. 157-8.
12 World Health Organization, 2016, .
13 Seok et al., 2013, p. 3511.
14 Lazarou J & Pomeranz B (1998). Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies, J Am MedAsspc 271: 1200-5.
15 Akhtar, Animals and Public Health, 2012, p. 147-148
16 Allen, Slate, 2006.
17 Carthew et al., Cancer Research, 1995, p. 544.
18 Cohen, Clinical Cancer Research, 2002, p. 936.
19 Arrowsmith, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 2012, pp. 17-18. 
20 Tufts Centre for the Study of Drug Development, .
21 California Biomedical Research Association, .
22 Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, ; Carbrera et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2006, p. 2334.
23 Rodriguez, Until Every Animal is Free, 2015.
24 Bailey, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals, 2008, 381–428.
25 Cimons, Gentlin and Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 6 May 1998.
26 New Zealand Government, Animal Welfare Amendment Act (No. 2) 2015, Part 1, Section 4, .

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