Safer Medicines - putting patient safety first

Putting patient safety first

07/11/07

ASA rejects claim by Pro-Test that animal testing has been scientifically evaluated

Pro-Test, which describes itself as ‘an Oxford-based group campaigning in favour of continued animal testing and in support of scientific research’, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a leaflet produced by patient safety charity Europeans for Medical Progress Trust (EMP Trust). Pro-Test disagreed with the assertion on the leaflet by Mike Hancock, CBE, MP that:

It is astonishing that animal testing has never been scientifically evaluated and the process is long overdue.


Pro-Test argued that three inquiries into animal testing had been conducted and claimed that these constituted a scientific evaluation of the practice. However, EMP Trust pointed out that these inquiries focused on ethics and legislation and did not constitute scientific evaluation. In fact, all three inquiries called for reviews of the reliability and relevance of animal research. The ASA agreed with EMP Trust and rejected Pro-Test's claims: http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_43465.htm

Pro-Test also complained about a statement on the leaflet by EMP Trust that:

Hormone replacement therapy increases women's risk of heart disease and stroke. Millions of prescriptions were based on monkey data, which predicted the opposite.

Pro-Test claimed that HRT was not prescribed on the basis of monkey data but EMP Trust provided abundant evidence to show that it was. The ASA's draft recommendation was to reject this complaint as well - at which point Pro-Test decided to withdraw the complaint. Clearly, they wanted to limit their embarrassment on publication of the ASA's decision to one rejection rather than two.

These complaints highlight the contrast between Pro-Test and EMP Trust: EMP Trust's position is based on rigorous scientific evidence, while Pro-Test's case rests on claims which it cannot substantiate. For example, they frequently claim that medical progress without animal research would be impossible - despite the fact that the ASA ruled in 2005 that such a claim is misleading: http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/non_broadcast/Adjudication+Details.htm?Adjudication_id=40340

If Pro-Test were genuinely campaigning in support of scientific research, as they claim, they would support the evaluation proposed by EMP Trust and supported by 250 MPs and 83% of GPs. Instead, they campaign against it - showing they have no confidence that animal tests will prove to be as effective as they claim. The point made by Mike Hancock, CBE, MP, bears repetition:

It is astonishing that animal testing has never been scientifically evaluated and the process is long overdue.

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