Alternative methods, such as computer models, cannot give vital information about the safety and efficiency of a substance in a whole living system.
Animal research cannot be completely replaced by non-animal methods today.
More information Our Animals and Society section gives a great overview of general animal use by humans and helps to put the numbers into perspective. Laboratory animals and humans have organs and body systems that are very similar.
Humans share between 70% - 90% or more of their genes with every other mammal.
Biomedical research involves the use of many tools including cell/tissue cultures, computer models, animal models, epidemiological studies, and human volunteers.
People and animals are living longer and healthier lives because of biomedical research.
Animals are easily bred, and maintained safely in controlled labs. However it would be much more cruel to test new drugs on people or children, or to let people die because there was not enough information about a drug.
The costs of testing in humans would be extremely high. Furthermore, legislation in most countries sets standards for animal treatment, and laboratories have guidelines to prevent cruelty.
Opponents of animal research also say that information from animals does not apply to humans.
They point to certain commercial drugs which have been withdrawn because of side-effects in humans While it is true that animal systems differ from human systems, there are enough similarities to apply information from animals to humans.