Letters to the Editor: Scientists can’t just give up animal research without serious consequences

People wear T-shirts that say, "Our Planet, Theirs Too," while holding photos of animals
Demonstrators observing National Animal Rights Day hold a mass funeral for dead animals on June 6, 2021.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A letter writer implies that animal research has persisted because of the scientific community’s and the pharmaceutical industry’s inertia, laziness and financial gain.

As a scientist who witnessed firsthand the studies leading to the development of two widely used classes of drugs that have alleviated disease in hundreds of millions — proton-pump inhibitors and gliflozins — I can assure the writer that if a non-animal alternative to drug testing that could predict efficacy and all possible adverse effects in humans became available, this would be immediately adopted.

Cell culture, for example, generally requires fetal calf serum obtained from slaughtered pregnant cows and is thus a form of animal research. All drugs must be tested in large clinical trials before approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and no drug can enter a clinical trial before extensive safety testing in animals.


As much as everyone, including the scientific community, would like to abandon animal research, the alternative of releasing untested drugs to the public is far worse.

Jonathan Kaunitz, MD, Santa Monica