the justification of animal experiments: the truth behind the benefits
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The main argument for justifying the use of animals in research for human purposes is because animal experiments benefit humans. This thesis is a literature study about the justification of the use of animals in research experiments with the focus on the benefits of the experiments. These benefits need to be considered before the animal experiments are performed; ethical committees need to approve the use of animals in the experiments. These committees will compare the discomfort of the animals in the experiments with the potential benefits of the experiments. When these potential benefits are overruling the costs of the experiments, i.e. the discomfort of the animals, the use of animals is justified and the experiments will be approved. To determine on forehand whether the benefits are substantial higher than the costs, the ethical committees have to analyse the scientific validity of the experiment by setting and following specific criteria. However, even when the experiment is found scientifically valid, it is uncertain whether the results will be the expected results. With an evaluation of the results, the immediate and the long term results of the animal experiments can be determined, in other words, the contribution of animal experiments to medical science. Systematic reviews may provide an overview of the published animal experiments and help to determine the contribution of animal experiments to medical science. However, unexpected or negative results are often not published. To determine the relative relevance of animal experiments for humans, the unexpected and unpublished results of animal experiments should also be taken into account. A proper comparison of the results of animal experiments and the corresponding clinical trials help to determine the contribution of animals in research to medical science as well. However, there are plenty of examples that show that systematic reviews of animal experiments are not conducted properly or that the systematic reviews are not evaluated before the clinical trials start. For those examples, it is unsure whether the use of animals was necessary or that animal lives were spilled. The real contribution of the benefits of animal experiments to medical science is therefore hard to determine. In conclusion, the benefits of animal experiments are important in justifying the use of animals in research for human purposes. Without the potential benefits, no animal experiment will be approved and no research will be performed. However, the benefits are hard to determine on forehand and can be hard to evaluate afterwards. Therefore, the contribution of the use of animals is difficult to determine. Using animals in research for human purposes is and probable always will be an unsolved dilemma, mostly because the benefits on one hand have contributed a lot to medical science but on the other hand can never be controlled and absolutely assured in future experiments.