dangerous drugs

Dangerous Drugs: Animal Experiments Harm People Too!

Think that animal testing can determine the safety and efficacy of drugs? Think again!

Medication trials on animals can be a deceptive guidepost to human health
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These drugs harbour hidden dangers that only surface when these drugs are administered to humans. The perils of this process are illuminated by numerous instances of drugs, proven safe in animal tests, yet later withdrawn due to harmful human effects. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) – excluding those caused by prescribing errors- are estimated to kill more than 100,000 people in the US every year (1). Whilst these reactions may be caused by interactions with other medicines and cannot be attributed solely to the unreliability of animal data, a study of ninety-three serious ADRs concluded that only eighteen of them could have been detected on the basis of preceeding animals data (2).

Examples where animal tests have misled clinical development (3)

  • Immunosuppressant drugs cyclosporine & tacrolimus were almost abandoned because animal tests failed to predict efficacy and safety
  • Alzheimer’s vaccine caused severe brain swelling in early human trials despite appearing safe in animal tests
  • Immunomodulatory drug Tegenero left healthy human volunteers with catastrophic organ failure despite prior unremarkable animal testing using 4 species
  • Hepatitis B drug was abandoned because it caused severe liver injury and multiple deaths in human trials despite encouraging animal data

Misleading animal experiments not only cost lives but also obstruct scientific progress, leaving us questioning our advancements had we focused more on human-specific studies. The tale of these trials serves as a stark reminder: what works for animals doesn’t always work for us.

The list of drugs below were ‘successfully’ tested on animals. These are stark examples where animal research findings were NOT translatable to humans and posed great risks to human health.  These are not isolated examples but illustrative of the inability of animal tests to safeguard humans, as clear by broader reseach confirming the lack of specificity of animal tests to determine toxicity in human patients (4).

AlatrofloxacinFluoroquinoline antibioticLiver damage
AmrinoneTo treat heart failureCaused thrombocytopenia – a lack of blood cells needed for clotting in 20% of patients taking the drug on a long term basis.
AriprazoleAn antipsychoticCaused neuroleptic malignant syndrome – fever, confusion, disorientation, muscle rigidity, profuse sweating and autonomic instability.
AtenololBeta blocker, treatment for high blood pressure.Associated with 26% higher risk of stroke compared to newer drugs.
AvandiaType 2 diabetesCaused weight gain, bone fractures and heart disease.
BenoxaprofenA non steroidal anti-inflammatory analgesic agent.Potent phototoxic drug in elderly persons.
BenzaroneFor treatment of goutLiver injury and deaths
BenziodaroneA coronary vasodilatorAcute uric acid build up in the kidneys.
BIA 10- 2474Pain relief and anxiety treatmentVolunteers in a Phase I clinical trial hospitalised with brain damage. One person died. January 2016.
BromfenacFor post operative painHepatotoxicity (liver damage)
CelebrexCox 2 inhibitor, arthritis painkillerRisk of heart attack, weight gain, abdominal pain, headache, dyspepsia, diarhhoea, nausea, kidney failure, fainting, blurred vision, allergic reactions, chest pain, ringing in ears, intestinal bleeding etc
CerivastatinTreatment for high blood chloresterol,Muscle toxicity
CisaprideGastrointestinal stimulantDisorders of heart rhythm, headaches, diarhhoea, constipation, nausea and abdominal pain.
ClioquinolIngredient in anti-diarrhoea drugsAt least 10,000 people, and possibly up to 30,000, fell victim to SMON (subacute myelo-optic neuropathy), a disease that causes numbness, weakness in the legs, paralysis, eye problems including blindness, all due to nerve damage.
ClomacronPsychotropic drugHepatotoxicity (liver damage)
ClozapineAnti psychoticSeizures, shaking hands, fainting, loss of bladder control, confusion, changes in vision, fever, severe muscle stiffness, sweating, changes in behaviour, sore throat, unusual bleeding or bruising, loss of appetite, upset stomach, yellowing of skin or eyes, flu like symptoms, lack of energy.
CyclofenilAntiestrogenHepatotoxicity (liver damage)
DexfenfluramineWeight lossCardiovascular side effects
Diethylstillbestrol (DES)A synthetic estrogen prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriageIncreased spontaneous abortions, premature births and neonatal deaths. Increased risk of vaginal cancer in daughters and granddaughters of users.
DomperidoneTreat symptoms of stomach disordersHeadaches, dizziness, dry mouth, nervousness, flushing, irritability, hot flushes, trouble sleeping, leg cramps, chest pain, slow/fast heart beat, discharge from breasts, swelling of feet and ankles, difficulty urinating, menstrual changes, sexual difficulties.
DroperidolAntiemetic & anti psychoticSpasms of the face, disorders of heart rhythm.
EnbrelTreat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.Hypersensitivity reaction, sepsis, tuberculosis, reactivation of hepatitis B, malignancy, haematological reactions, autoimmunity, seizures and heart failure
Enzyme-inducing antiepileptic medicinesEpilepsyReduced bone mineral density and subsequent increased risk of fractures.
EraldinTreatment for heart conditionsFound to cause serious eye damage, including blindness. 23 deaths. Over a 1000 patients received compensation for the damage it caused.
ExantaBlood thinner to treat thrombosisCauses long term liver damage.
EzetimibeReduces the amount of cholesterol and fatty substances in the blood.Rapid onset of depression, hives, rashes, difficulty breathing or swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of the face, lips, ankles, throat, legs, hands eyes and tongue, upset stomach, tiredness, unusual bleeding and bruising, lack of energy, loss of appetite, chills, chest pain.
FenfluramineAnti obesity medicationHeart valve disease, pulmonary hypertension.
FialuridineHepatitis BSuccessful in mice, rats, dogs, woodchucks and primates, but in human trials caused seven people to develop liver failure – killing five and others requiring liver transplants.
GrepafloxacinAnti bioticCaused disorders of heart rhythm
HumiraRheumatoid arthritis treatmentHypersensitivity reaction, sepsis, severe reactions occurred with patients who had tuberculosis or hep B or lupus, can cause swelling, shortness of breath, chills, flu symptoms, weight loss, fever, patchy skin, chest pain, coughing up blood, easy bruising, pale skin, unusual weakness.
IbufenacNon steroidal Anti inflammatory (Ibuprofen)Caused severe liver damage.
Kava kavaHerbal remedy for stress and anxietyLiver toxicity
LeflunomideAnti inflammatory disease modifying anti rheumaticHepatotoxicity, nausea, diarrhea, hair loss, flu like symptoms, mild dizziness, chest pain, back pain, sore mouth, muscle cramping, numbness / tingling sensations.
LevacetylmethadolTreatment for opium addictionWithdrawn, caused severe cardiac disorders.
MethandrostenoloneAnabolic SteroidEnlargement of male breasts, water retention, oily skin, acne, unwanted body hair, aggression, male pattern baldness, liver damage.
MetipranololTreatment of GlaucomaSevere eye irritation or inflammation, slow heart beat or chest pain.
MibefradilTreatment of high blood pressureAbdominal pain, belching, heartburn, stomach discomfort, flushing, headache, nausea, vomiting, pounding heart, stuffy nose, dizziness, lightheadedness, swelling legs, unusual tiredness.
Mumps vaccinePrevention of mumpsAllergic reactions – difficulty in breathing or swallowing, hives, itching, reddening of skin, swelling of eyes, face or inside of nose, unusual tiredness or weakness. Other side effects include bruising or purple spots on skin, confusion, fever, headache, irritability, pain, tenderness, swelling of testicles, stiffneck and vomiting.
Naftidrofuryl oxalate injectionTreatment for disorder of blood flow to the brainCardio toxicity, rash, inflammation of liver, nausea, stomach pain.
NomifensineAnti depressantLinked to kidney failure, anemia and death
OdanacatibTreatment for osteoporosisWithdrawn from development in September 2016 due to high risk of atrial fibrillation and stroke.
OlanzapineAnti psychoticConfusion, sluggishness, fever, disorientation, muscle rigidity, spasms, profuse sweating, autonomic instability, swelling of face, breathing problems, uncontrollable chewing and arm and leg movements, loss of memory, nervousness.
OprenArthritis drug.Found to be highly toxic in humans, with 3,500 reports of harmful effects including 61 British deaths, mainly through liver damage in the elderly.
OsmosinNon steroidal anti inflammatoryStomach ulceration and death
PacritinibTreatment for rare blood cancer called myelofibrosisTrials halted in February 2016 as a number of volunteers taking part died from brain haemorrhages or heart failure.
ParoxetineAnti depressant and anxiety treatmentSuicidal ideation, serotonin syndrome, bipolar mania or hypomania, schizophrenia, jaw / neck and back muscle spasms, fever, chills, sore throat and flu like symptoms, jaundice, GI bleeding, fetal defects, withdrawal syndrome, headache, weight loss, nausea, dry mouth, sweating, drowsiness, insomnia, constipation or diarrhea, erectile dysfunction, tremor, vertigo, dizziness.
PemolineADHD, and narcolepsyLiver toxicity
phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazoneNon steroidal anti inflammatoryGastrointestinal ulcers, kidney damage, oral lesions, internal heamorrhage, decreased appetite, excessive thirst, suppression of white blood cell production, aplastic aenemia.
PrenylamineAngina pectorisDepletes myocardial catecholamine stores
PropanididShort acting general anaestheticWithdrawn due to causing anaphylactic reactions
Pulmonary surfactantTo increase pulmonary complianceIncreased mortality.
RisperdalAntipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). Also used in autistic children to treat symptoms of irritability.Increased risk of strokes and death in elderly dementia patients, seizures, major weight gain, onset of diabetes and potentially fatal high blood sugar.
Ritalin and DexamphetamineTreatment of ADHD, especially in children.Children as young as 5 suffered strokes, heart attacks, hallucinations and convulsions, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, hair loss, muscle spasms, severe abdominal pain, tremors, insomnia, severe weight loss, depression and paranoia.
SertindoleAnti psychoticCardiac arrhythmias, also caused some deaths
SimvastatinControl hypercholesterolemia & prevent cardio vascular disease17 % patients died between December 2005 and February 2006. Common side effects include, diarrhea, abdominal pain, indigestion, weakness. Less common – joint pain, memory loss and muscle cramps
SitaxentanAntihypertensive drugMitochondrial dysfunction and liver damage
SuprofenNon steroidal anti inflammatory.Caused kidney toxicity, withdrawn from the market.
TemafloxacinAnti bioticsDeath, low blood sugar, hemolytic anemia, other blood cell abnormalities, kidney dysfunction resulting in renal dialysis, liver dysfunction, allergic reactions causing life threatening respiratory distress.
Terbinafine (marketed as Lamisil)Oral treatment for fungal skin infections and thrushAs of January 2008 there were 722 reports of adverse effects, including 3 deaths from liver failure and 70 liver reactions.
TerodilineTreatment of urinary incontinenceCardiac arrhythmias
ThalidomideA sedative and to treat morning sickness in pregnant women.Found to cause damage to the human foetus, resulting in 10,000 children born crippled and deformed with missing limbs.
Tienilic acidAnti hypertensive drugLiver damage
TGN1412Treatment of inflammatory conditions (especially rheumatism) and leukemiaVolunteers in a clinical trial suffered poor breathing, heavy swelling of neck and head, organ failure
TolcaponeTreatment of parkinsons diseaseLife threatening liver disease
TorcetrapibTreatment of hypercholesterolemiaUp to 82 known deaths reported worldwide.
TrasylolUsed to prevent blood loss during surgeryKidney problems, heart attacks and strokes
TrovafloxacinFluoroquinoline antibioticLiver damage
TroglitazoneDiabetesCauses liver damage, resulted in 28 deaths and 7 liver transplants.
TrovanAnti bioticAcute liver failures and deaths.
ViagraErectile dysfunction drug given to pregnant women in a clinical trial to help boost growth of unborn babiesGrowth was severely limited in the womb and 11 babies died – despite being supported by animal research.
VioxxPainkiller for rheumatoid and osteoarthritisIncreased risk of cardiovascular events.
VoltarenNon steroidal Anti inflammatoryLife threatening heart or circulation problems, including heart attack or stroke.
XimelagatranAnticoagulantLiver damage
ZelmacTreatment for irritable bowel syndromeStudies have shown a link to heart attacks and strokes.
ZelmidAnti depressantLinked to Guillain Barre syndrome, liver damage
ZolpidemShort term treatment of insomniaPossible death or coma from overdose, anterograde amnesia, hallucinations, delusions, ataxia and poor motor coordination, increased appetite, decreased libido, altered thought patterns, extroversion.
ZomaxArthritis treatment & anti inflammatory drug to treat post operative painDeaths and severe allergic reactions.

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