On 2 July 2021 the Animal Interfaith Alliance wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of AstraZeneca urging the use of non animal testing methods instead of relying on outdated animal models. They sent the same letter to the Chief Executive of Glaxosmithkline. The letter is reproduced here:
2 July 2021
Dear Pascal Soriot,
We, the Animal Interfaith Alliance, a group of 17 faith-based animal advocacy organisations (listed below), write to you in your capacity as CEO of AstraZeneca to ask you to engage in a genuine dialogue concerning some of the corporate practices of your company.
We appeal first and foremost to your corporate social responsibility, generally defined as the self-regulation of a business model that helps a company be socially and morally accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public.
The specific issue we wish to raise is the use of animals used to develop and test new pharmaceutical products intended for human use. We fully realise that the use of animals is currently a legal requirement, based on national and international regulations. These regulatory requirements can be traced back to the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg at the end of the Second World War, 1946 (1).
Science has moved forward since then by 75 years, but the laws have not yet caught up with the science. The result of this legal inertia is a continued reliance on outdated and unreliable animal testing, which can be summed up in the following paragraph:
“In 2004, the FDA estimated that 92 percent of drugs that pass preclinical tests, including “pivotal” animal tests, fail to proceed to the market. More recent analysis suggests that, despite efforts to improve the predictability of animal testing, the failure rate has actually increased and is now closer to 96 percent. The main causes of failure are lack of effectiveness and safety problems that were not predicted by animal tests” (2).
Not only is the continued use of animals responsible for an enormous amount of avoidable animal suffering but it is also responsible for a significant incidence of human adverse drug reactions (3). This is not surprising in view of our current knowledge of inter and even intra-species differences, based on genomics, complexity theory and evolutionary biology (4).
The following paragraph makes the connection between animal testing and shareholder expectations:
“Pharmaceutical firms seek to fulfil their responsibilities to stakeholders by developing drugs that treat diseases. We evaluate the social and financial costs of developing new drugs relative to the realized benefits and find the industry falls short of its potential. This is primarily due to legislation-mandated reliance on animal test results in early stages of the drug development process, leading to a mere 10 percent success rate for new drugs entering human clinical trials. We cite hundreds of biomedical studies from journals including Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association to show animal modelling is ineffective, misleading to scientists, unable to prevent the development of dangerous drugs, and prone to prevent the development of useful drugs.” (5).
The pharmaceutical industry is best placed to make the paradigm change needed to replace outdated and unreliable animal tests with human relevant test methods, including human 3D cell culture, organs on chips, pharmacogenomics, and similar 21st century technologies that were previously unavailable.
Only the pharmaceutical industry has the resources to scientifically validate human based test methods and steer them through the regulatory framework.
The development, manufacture and mass marketing of the COVID-19 vaccine was achieved in just 10 months instead of the normal 10 to 15 years. The pharmaceutical industry has already had 75 years in which to replace animal tests. Now is the time to invest some of the profits made from the COVID-19 vaccine and to improve Big Pharma reputations by using the non-animal tests that are currently available, whilst establishing a group of committed scientists dedicated to the creation of new non-animal methodologies. We are sure you will agree that this would represent a win-win situation for your company, for human health and for animal welfare.
I look forward to hearing from you.
CE Animal Interfaith Alliance
Animal Interfaith Alliance – Member Organisations:
Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals
Bhagvatinandji Education and Health Trust
Christian Vegetarians and Vegans UK
Christian Vegetarian Association US
International Ahimsa Organisation
Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals