Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline has a post up on the use of animals in research within the drug company milieu. It is worth a read.

We watch with all the tools of our trade – remote-control physiological radio transmitters, motion-sensing software hooked up to video cameras, sensitive mass spectrometry analysis of blood, of urine, and whatever else, painstaking microscopic inspection of tissue samples, whatever we can bring to bear. But in the end, it all comes down to dosing animals and waiting to see what happens. That principle hasn’t changed in decades, just the technology we use to do it.

Now, if you don’t read Lowe that regularly you might want to skim through a few recent posts and you are almost inevitably going to run up against his formulation of the “90%” problem. His most recent musings on this topic concern convincing the (health-care reform engaged and politicizing) public that making effective medications is really hard stuff and the evul BigPharma companies work their tails off on the development side to get to drugs which can be marketed. All joking aside, I think his point is that 90% of drugs fail…at multiple levels of the development process!
This consideration I find critical for some aspects of the animals-in-research discussion.

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