Despite saying that animal experiments are a necessary part of the development of new drugs for the treatment of cancer, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) yesterday said it would ensure all such experiments were based on the highest ethical standards and that the minimum number of animals possible were used.
The statement was a response to recent protests by animal welfare activists against the use of beagles for drug testing.
The council said tests conducted on a new drug being developed at its Institute of Nuclear Energy Research conformed to the Department of Health’s “Guideline for the Nonclinical Pharmacology/Toxicology Studies for Medicinal Products.”
Based on the guidelines, tests on both rodents and non-rodents (usually canines, and especially pure breeds such as beagles) are necessary to ensure the safety of a drug in the human body, and are a crucial process before a drug is sent for clinical trial, the council said.
The council quoted the National Laboratory Animal Center as saying that beagles are a “first priority animal” for drug testing, and that the dogs used would be healthy animals imported from legal breeding centers.
At present, there is no -alternative to animal testing and such experiments provide reliable information to determine whether drugs are likely to have negative effects on the human body, the council said, adding that many countries, including the US and Japan, have established a cooperation database to share data collected from animal experiments, thereby avoiding the repetition of such work.
Because the drug being developed at the institute is approaching the clinical trial stage, complete statistical data relating to drug safety was essential, the council added.
As to protestors’ demand that non-rodent labs at the institute be shut down, the council said that only a handful of biotechnology -companies have non-rodent non--radioactive experimental labs in Taiwan, but radiopharmacy labs needed to be strictly managed, so none of those firms are eligible to conduct new drug testing experiments.
The council said that a radioactive nano drug that has been developed over the past three years at the institute has already completed animal tests on rodents and the initial results demonstrated its effectiveness.
The drug would now be subjected to non-rodent animal testing and then become the first radioactive nano drug for clinical trail, in an effort to improve the availability of treatments for patients with cancer, it said.