While we are making so much progress when it comes to developing and utilizing alternative methods to animal testing, some days, we are reminded that there is still so much progress that needs to be made.

Lisa Bero, a pharmacologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy, is a part of that progress. Bero and her research team carried out an analysis of 63 animal based studies of  popular cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, such as Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor. The full study call, “Nonindustry-Sponsored Preclinical Studies on Statins Yield Greater Efficacy Estimates Than Industry-Sponsored Studies: A Meta-Analysis” can be found online at PLOS Biology, an open access, peer reviewed journal.

The objective was to learn if there was a difference in how the source of funding for a research project caused bias in the outcome of the study. According to US News, “Numerous design flaws were found in the studies regardless of who funded them” these include:

  • Animals were not randomly divided into treatment or placebo groups — a requirement of high-quality clinical trials — in about half the studies.
  • In about half the studies, the animals were identifiable to the person giving them the drug or placebo … That’s a violation of a research practice called “blinding,” in which researchers do not know which animal or human got the treatment and which did not.
  • Many of the studies did not explain the criteria for including or excluding animals … Many also did not properly explain treatment changes made among groups of animals that were being given the drugs.

So not only were animals used in this research, but their presence was disregarded and the research was not carried out in a professional manner. Or at least, as professional as animal testing can be considered. This finding adds to the mounting evidence that animal based testing is not the avenue we should continue pursuing.

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