ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine
Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine
104b Weston Park
18 July 2001
Somerset, Staffordshire, West Sussex
Objections to a national press advertisement headlined "ANIMAL RESEARCH: DANGER TO HUMAN HEALTH - FACT OR FICTION? (You can't fool all the people all the time)". It stated "Fiction: Medicines need to be tested on animals. Fact: UNTRUE! Animal tests are misleading because of the differences between species, eg. morphine sedates people but stimulates cats; aspirin causes birth defects in monkeys, mice, and dogs, but not in people. Even minimal dissimilarities can spell disaster. Animal tests are performed to free the regulatory authorities from legal accountability in the event of death or disability. Fiction: Medicines are safe, thanks to animal testing. Fact: UNTRUE! Despite massive animal testing and research, adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and Europe. Fiction: Using animals is the accurate way to test medicines. Fact: UNTRUE! Animals and people react differently to medicines - human cell invitro, tissue and organ cultures, clinical investigations and observations of patients, epidemiology and computer and mathematical models are the appropriate, accurate and scientific methods for valid medical research". The complainants challenged the claims that:
1. animal tests were misleading because of the differences between humans and animals;
2. despite animal testing and research, adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and Europe; and
3. animal testing was an inaccurate way to test medicines because humans and animals react differently to medicines.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The advertisers explained that the claims were designed to give the public an alternative viewpoint to that of the animal research industry and were based on scientific evidence. They listed certain articles that they claimed substantiated the claims but did not send those articles or other scientific evidence.
1. Complaints upheld
The advertisers said animal testing was misleading because of the differences between species. They claimed that: morphine sedated humans but stimulated cats; asprin caused birth defects in monkeys, mice and dogs but not in humans; and chimpanzees, who shared 98.4% of their DNA with humans, did not succumb to HIV because of the differences between the human and chimpanzee immune system. The advertisers maintained that animal testing was performed to protect the regulatory authorities from legal accountability if patients died or were disabled from Adverse Drug Reactions. The Authority considered that the evidence they had sent did not substantiate that all animal testing was misleading. The Authority told the advertisers, that in the absence of substantiation, they should not repeat the claim.
2. Complaints upheld
The advertisers said the source of the claim was an American medical journal but did not supply a copy of the journal. The Authority told the advertisers not to repeat the claim and reminded them that they were required to hold documentary evidence of advertised claims.
3. Complaints upheld
To substantiate the claim the advertisers cited two quotes, one attributed to a former director of an animal research centre and the other to a past World Health Organization consultant and a recent article in the British Medical Journal; they did not provide a copy of the article. The Authority considered that the information provided was not enough to substantiate the claim and told the advertisers not to repeat it.