Can a drug be classified as “not vital”?

The Daily Mail has put out a piece that reads like a press release. I suppose that’s like a lot of their web content.
However, this one attracted my attention as it was about animal testing.
It is based upon an investigation by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, titled “The Ugly Truth”, about animal experiments on rabbits. These rabbits were being used for shock horror testing side effects of antibiotics, blood fillers and saline! Oh, the humanity!
BUAV complain that “the lab inflicted ‘appalling suffering’ on thousands of animals in tests that [were] ‘crude, archaic and extremely cruel’.” adding that the bunnies were “used over and over again for months at a time.”
However, this is not what this shall focus on. No, it was one of the nutty comments on the press release… I mean “article” that wound me up to no end.

Testing for vital drugs is, I suppose, ok. Testing for non-vital drugs or beauty products should be outlawed and anyone found doing such tests should eb subjected to it themselves.
– Ex-pat of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia, 17/4/2011 15:11

How can one judge whether a drug is vital or not? A drug may not appear vital to some, but absolutely, undeniably necessary for someone else.

Let’s take an example.

For me, my medicines are vital. They allow me to function on a day to day basis without fear of excruciating abdominal pain, very unpleasant bowel movements and extreme fatigue.
However, I could still “live” without them. My life is not in immediate danger without them.
Therefore, I’m sure that in some people’s eyes they would class as non-vital.
On the flip side from my situation, there are people for who these drugs would be classed as absolutely vital in anyone’s eyes – people with severe Crohn’s disease. People who could quite plausibly die without treatment.
Therefore, the animal testing would have to be done on these vital drugs, even in the eyes of people like Ex-pat of Adelaide

The main issue comes from the definition of vital. Does it include people who would not function on a daily basis without the drug or is it strictly limited to life and death situations? Could it include someone with a headache that stops them doing whatever they want for an hour or two?

Another reason that this is an irresponsibly stupid thing to say is that we do not know every single disease each drug will treat when they are developed and therefore, cannot know how vital they may be. Take the drug ibuprofen. Originally developed as a painkiller, it was realised that it could be used to treat patent ductus arteriosus – a condition where a newborn baby’s ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. This condition can lead to heart failure. Something not as apparently vital in the first instance has become something which can save lives. Ibuprofen is not the only drug this has happened with and I doubt it will be the last.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that you could make the case for any drugs being vital.
Whether it be aspirin, methotrexate, infliximab or zidovudine – these drugs have been vital to someone, whether it be to treat a headache or stop HIV taking a greater hold in their body.

For all these reasons, and undoubtedly more, it is silly and unethical to call a drug not vital and therefore refuse to do testing on it.

Published by Rhys

Computer Science graduate, from Oxford Brookes University. Originally from Cardiff.

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  1. While you are of course correct, I wouldn’t get too fussed about what nutters on the Mail website write. I once considered starting a blog where I bait and troll the DM website using only reasonable statements like “I don’t think we should execute James Bulger’s killers” but quickly realised it was pretty much the equivalent of standing outside a chimp cage doing a silly dance and making rude gestures then cataloging the subtle differences in the stench of pieces of shit that get hurled at me.

  2. My friend has a game he plays daily where he comments on an article on the Daily Mail website and “wins” if his comment is the worst rated.

  3. Your point is very well made. The Daily Mail has never discriminated between people’s opinions. They don’t have any sort of quality control. The sad thing is that many will reply with “Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t like pain in animals so anything that is contrasted with it must be the one true solution.” Truly a case to show that not all opinions are equally valid. “Irresponsible” is the kind way of putting it.

  4. You’re right. I take a bucketload of pills every day (well, currently only seven :P), but not all of them are “vital” in that regard, though some of them may well be for others. The closest I can come is my asthma medicine, since it drastically reduces the risk of asthma attacks that could potentially be lethal (likely they wouldn’t be, thankfully). I could live, as you said, without the others, but it wouldn’t be much of a life. I’d be so deficient in iron, so miserable with untreated allergies, eczema and reflux, that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I definitely prefer functioning. I’m glad we live in a modern world that has these drugs, I would’ve been done for in the old days. On second thought – I probably wouldn’t have survived birth, even. Emergency C-section. Heh.

    I’m all for animal testing where necessary. Drugs is definitely one thing that falls under “necessary”. Even the ones that never make it to market. How else are we going to find out what works and what doesn’t?

  5. This is a problem on the vast majority of websites, most especially the commercial sites like CNN, for one example.

    I cringe when I read some comments (or many comments) that show no thinking or reasoning at all, just blind emotion.

    Unfortunately many people live their lives without ever reasoning out issues or problems. Or they “pray” on it. (what ever that means)

    Some simply agree with whoever they happen to be around. I know one elderly lady who is always agreeing with whatever nonsense someone around her spouts. “Yeah! Those Pakistanis are taking all the good jobs!” “Yeah! I heard those wrist magnets help almost everything!”

    But is it surprising that so many people act like this? Not all that much, considering we are a highly social animal that is highly adapted to “get along”. Because for the vast majority of our species existence, not getting along with the group meant death. It could have been a quick and painful death, or a slow and agonizing death, but often death.

    It also takes effort to reason and think. Its much easier to just base your decision on how you feel. Granted, you might wind up with a president that isn’t so good, “Your doing a heck of a job, Brownie”, but that’s not your fault, that’s his fault for not living up to your expectations and feelings.

    Nothings ever your fault when your living by your feelings, because there is no reasoning. All roads that lead to self recrimination are no through roads. Because you have to first think about how you made that decision to realize it was wrong. And if you never think or reason, you can never be wrong. If someone explains it to you, well thats just HIS opinion. You have a different one.

    It makes me sad to think about, most especially because its true for so many people.

  6. It always amazes me, some iguana or snake gets killed by someone and no one says a thing.

    A cute fluffy bunny is threatened and large numbers of people rise up ready to defend that bunny to the death.

    Chickens are made to live their lives out in a box little bigger then a shoe box, and nobody cares. A rabbit is given a big cage but has to endure an occasional shot and the sky is falling.

    As I say, people are not rational, thinking animals, even when that is just about the only advantage we have over other species.

  7. Does this mean I should keep feeding ‘shrooms to the neighbors cat? Yayy! 😉

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