A new study from the Research Defence Society (RDS) indicates that medical doctors in the UK overwhelmingly support the role of animal research in contributing to important medical advances. The RDS questioned four hundred general practitioners from across the UK about their feelings on the importance and necessity of medical research, and the results can be found here.
The study found that 96% of general practitioners agree that “animal experiments have made an important contribution to many advances in medicine” and that 88% agree that “safety tests should be carried out on animals before human trials of new medicines are conducted.”
The study also found that 93% of GPs believe that “Medical research data can be misleading.” This last one may seem like an anomaly, but, as pointed out by the RDS, it puts into perspective a recent survey result that has been publicized by the anti-animal research organization Europeans for Medical Progress. This group had previously found that a large proportion of doctors thought that animal research results could “be misleading when applied to humans,” but the results of the recent survey indicate that this is a general attitude in the field, not confined just to animal studies.
None of these results should be particularly surprising, since the importance of animal studies has been well validated within the medical community. Interestingly, as opponents of science (from the animal rights movement in the UK as well as from the conservative movement in the US) continue to take on increasingly scientific-sounding arguments (like the idea that animal studies could be misleading to doctors), this study demonstrates that these are only quasi-scientific, manufactured to support a particular viewpoint and not intended to actually communicate new information.