Tag: harm benefit analysis

Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH

As Dr. John Gluck points out in his recent Opinion Editorial in The New York Times, in 1974, a federal commission was formed to develop ethical principles for human research. [1] In contrast, no similar, comprehensive and principled effort has addressed the use of animals in research – despite the large body of science showing how animals can suffer physically and mentally. To address this gap, Dr. Gluck, Dr. Tom Beauchamp, many other colleagues, and I worked on a multi-disciplinary National Science Foundation grant exploring the limits of existing animal research guidelines, as well as potential solutions. [2] Results were reported in multiple publications, including a special issue of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics called Rethinking the Ethics of Research Involving Nonhuman Animals. [3] One of the articles, authored by primatologist Dr. Agustin Fuentes and myself, addressed the imbalance between the harms of research involving nonhuman primates and deprivation of benefits to them. We concluded much of the laboratory research conducted today has inadequate standards, leading to significant physical, psychological, and social harms to nonhuman primates. [4] Several other articles in the series examine how widely recognized bioethical principles could better inform decisions about the use of animals, including nonhuman primates, in research. [5] I urge you to consider factors such as these in your deliberations.

Please see the following links for reference:

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/opinion/sunday/second-thoughts-of-an-animal-researcher.html?_r=0
2. http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1058186&HistoricalAwards=false
3. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11017-014-9291-7
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24627264
5. http://petrieflom.law.harvard.edu/resources/entry/special-issue-rethinking-the-ethics-of-research-involving-non-human-animals

Yekta Gadbois, MD

The work done by the NIH and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in scrutinizing the scientific necessity of continuing to use chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research revealed that harmful intramural and extramural research continued to be approved, funded, and conducted for years even though there were alternative methods in virtually every area where chimpanzees were being used invasively. The NIH and IOM reviews of chimpanzee research effectively underscored serious limitations in the current animal research review system. This same problem of impoverished review processes currently exists in the oversight of experiments involving other animals—resulting in the approval, funding, and execution of harmful experiments on animals where other methods might have been used. Reviews of protocols involving nonhuman primates should be more rigorous and standards for evaluating harms and benefits should be raised. Important articles have been written on this aspect of oversight (1, 2, 3) and these should be discussed in the NIH’s workshop on oversight of research involving nonhuman primates and steps should be implemented to reform oversight of primate research.
1. Wendler, D. (2014). Should protections for research with humans who cannot consent apply to research with nonhuman primates? Theoretical medicine and bioethics, 35(2), 157-173.
2. Ferdowsian, H., & Fuentes, A. (2014). Harms and deprivation of benefits for nonhuman primates in research. Theoretical medicine and bioethics, 35(2), 143-156.
3. DeGrazia, D., & Sebo, J. (2015). Necessary conditions for morally responsible animal research. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 24(4), 420-430.