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France-based drugmaker Sanofi has so far declined an invitation to join the right side of history and stop using a pointless near-drowning test that most of its competitors have already abandoned. Please help us show it the importance of walking in the light.
Sanofi and its subsidiary, Genzyme, have used more than 1,500 small animals—803 mice and 706 rats—in the forced swim test to test 15 experimental compounds since the mid-1990s. None of the drugs received approval for human use.
That’s not surprising, because the forced swim test is bereft of actual science and full of cruelty. In it, experimenters often dose small animals with a test substance and put them in inescapable containers of water. The panicked animals try to escape, scratching and clawing at the sides or diving underwater in search of any exit. They paddle furiously, trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, they’ll float.
The test purportedly models human depression and claims to test the efficacy of antidepressants. It’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.
Sanofi’s competitors think so, too. After discussions with PETA and its affiliates, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie Inc., Roche, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Bristol Myers Squibb announced that they would no longer conduct (or fund another party to conduct) the forced swim test.
But so far, Sanofi has decided to swim against the tide. PETA US and PETA UK have written to it six times in the past year. Here’s all we got in return: “[Sanofi] cannot and will not comment prospectively on the use of a particular test.” The company has, however, commented on and dealt with equally specific issues in the past, including prohibiting the use of animals in sales training. It should take the same pro-animal, pro-science stance now.
Please spare a moment to take action and urge Sanofi to join some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and ban this worthless test.