Ethical Implications of Using the Minipig in Regulatory Toxicology Studies
Journal of pharmacological and toxicological methods 2010 Nov-Dec; 62(3): 160-6
Two key questions are addressed in this article. What are the potential harms to minipigs relative to the harms for dogs and non-human primates and can these harms be reduced more easily in minipigs than in other species? Are there potential benefits resulting from the use of minipigs relative to dogs and non-human primates? In considering the answers to these questions, we present an ethical framework which was developed taking into account the viewpoint of all concerned parties. This ethical matrix provides a framework upon which to identify and explore issues raised by the moral imperative to seek a fair compromise between the differing needs of different interest groups, which includes both the moral agents and the moral patients. The moral agents are the different groups of human stakeholders including society at large, regulatory bodies, industrialists and animal care staff. The moral patients are the laboratory animals, both breeding stock held by the animal supplier, and experimental animals in laboratories. In considering these animals it cannot be assumed that dogs, monkeys and minipigs differ with regard to the pain and suffering that they may experience and undergo when treated in studies designed for safety assessment. On this basis we rejected the argument that minipigs are more acceptable experimental animals than dogs or monkeys despite the fact that their use may prove less offensive to some groups within society at large. Species selection must be made on a case-by-case basis where the benefits are assessed by weighing the scientific evidence relating to the predictivity of the animal model, against the harm that may accrue to the animals both from the test procedures and their lifetime experience within the laboratory environment.
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