Adverse drug reactions kill three people a day

Posted on the 14th June 2010

New figures have revealed that three people a day die from the side effects of medicines they have been prescribed.

A further 12 patients a day are admitted to hospital due to such adverse drug reactions (ADRs). ADRs account for one in 16 hospital admissions, and cost the NHS an estimated £466million a year. The harm that drugs cause to millions of people worldwide is further evidence that animal experiments do not reliably predict human reactions.

Drugs affect animals differently from us, for example aspirin and paracetamol are highly poisonous to cats, and penicillin is lethal to hamsters and guinea pigs. In addition, adverse drug reactions often cannot be predicted by animal experiments because common side effects such as headaches, visual disturbance, dizziness and nausea are difficult to detect in animals. Another important factor is that the lifespan of humans is from 4.4 to 66 times that of animals commonly used in tests. This means there is a much longer time available for toxic effects to be expressed or developed in people.

In order to develop medicines that are both safe and effective, we need to move away from unreliable animal experiments and instead use non-animal research methods that can efficiently generate data that is relevant to humans, without causing any suffering.

For more information on adverse drug reactions and the unreliability of animal testing, read our "Making a Killing" report

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