Animal testing and its alternatives – the most important omics is economics

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Lucy Meigs, Lena Smirnova, Costanza Rovida, Marcel Leist, Thomas Hartung
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For a long time, the discussion about animal testing vs its alternatives centered on animal welfare. This was a static warfare, or at least a gridlock, where life scientists had to take a position and make their value choices and hardly anyone changed sides. Technical advances have changed the frontline somewhat, with in vitro and in silico methods gaining more ground. Only more recently has the economic view begun to have an impact: Many animal tests are simply too costly, take too long, and give misleading results.
As an extension and update to previous articles in this series written a decade ago, we reanalyze the economic landscape of especially regulatory use of animal testing and this time also consider respective alternative tests. Despite some ambiguity and data gaps, which we have filled with crude estimates, a picture emerges of globally regulated industries that are subject to stark geographic and sectorial differences in regulation, which determine their corre­sponding animal use. Both animal testing and its alternatives are industries in their own right, offering remarkable business opportunities for biotech and IT companies as well as contract research organizations. In light of recent revelations as to the reproducibility and relevance issues of many animal tests, the economic consequences of incorrect results and the reasons for still maintaining often outdated animal test approaches are discussed.

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How to Cite
Meigs, L. (2018) “Animal testing and its alternatives – the most important omics is economics”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 35(3), pp. 275–305. doi: 10.14573/altex.1807041.
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