Using animals in pre-clinical trials?
I know animal cruelty has probably come up on here several times before, but this specific case deserves some extra respect.
I have no doubt that we abuse animals well beyond what's necessary. We test all sorts of things on them that are unnecessary, most notably cosmetics. In many cases, that is completely unnecessary.
Such is not the case in pre-clinical trials, when animal testing is a requirement in order to get a drug through testing and into the market. The testing needs to be done in a full body system (in vivo) and not simply with a small group of cells and/or chemical solutions (in vitro). So the choice really doesn't come down to "do we have to do it" and more "what do we have to do it with."
Should we continue to use animals, which cannot consent to the treatment they are getting, or should we use human testing at that stage, paying participants and informing them of the risks? The concern I have with the latter situation is that, by the pre-clinical stage, we really don't know what the risks are, unlike in Phase I clinical trials. Personally, I feel that animal testing in this stage of clinical trials is utterly necessary, though we can certainly do more for the benefit of the animals that are being tested. What say you?