The Effects of Animal Testing on Economics

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All medical products and drugs require preliminary testing to prove their effectiveness and safety for public use. This testing is conducted primarily on animals to prove their safety, then transferred to human subjects. Animal testing is not only safer than using human subjects, however, it is also more cost-effective. Businesses forced to undertake this animal testing by the FDA gravitate towards the most cost-effective option, making animal testing a multi-billion dollar market, to which it amassed almost $607 billion in 2009 alone globally (Bottini & Hartung, 2009). Despite its production of a global market, animal testing is being banned across Europe for the ethical problems that it poses to animals. This, in turn, prompts alternative techniques that test products to determine the safety and effectiveness to not only be introduced but also required by legislation. An alternative technique frequently used by medical testers is a vitro method. This technique uses human tissue or cells that can be harvested without harm and provides a real test on how a drug or medicine performs in the human body. This is not only a safer option for animals but also eliminates them from the testing by going straight to testing on the human body. Computer testing, or silicon testing, is another form of an alternative technique in which the product is matched with genes and an outcome of the product is calculated taking into account the human and environment (Meigs et al., 2018). They are not only more conscious of animal welfare but are also more cost-effective (Martin, Knudsen, Judson, Kavlock, & Dix).

This information begs the question as to whether animal testing should be permitted in the United States for newly released medical drugs or medicines prior to its public release. Animal testing should not be permitted, however, due to their cost-effectiveness and safety to animals, businesses should be pushed towards vitro techniques and computer testing to test their products prior to release.

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Although animal testing is a multi-billion dollar industry within its respective business, the public and governments across the world are pushing for the testing to become more ethical and less dependent on animals for its use. Since testing the product is necessary to bring it to market, providing a solution that is not only safer but also more cost-effective gives companies an advantage over others in that the public is more likely to endorse it (Ellis et al., 2010). These alternative solutions, which include testing on human tissues/cells, or vitro techniques, and computer-based testing, are proven to be more cost-effective than utilizing animals for tests. Forexample, a test used to determine the cancer risk of a certain product on an animal would exceed a cost of $700,000, while performing that same test on human tissues or cells only costs around $22,000 (Humane Society International, 2012). A report done by the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal (2012) focuses on the alternative solutions to animal testing that allows for better treatment and welfare of animals being tested on. Doke and Dhawale not only evaluate the cost of the animal testing itself, but also the expensive nature of storing, breeding, and taking care of these animals. Despite their market relevance, they believe that businesses should focus on regulating their animal testing and switching to alternative methods that are more cost-effective.

Their report introduces that businesses should evaluate alternative testing techniques, but also that the benefits associated with them are driving businesses to use them (Doke & Dhawale, 2015). The usability and benefits of the vitro methods provide a way to not only lower the costs of product testing but also do so without harming animals. Scientists Bottini and Hartung of the Altex journal agree with this perspective in that the cost of animal testing drives businesses to alternative methods. However, they also introduce the argument that governmental legislation involved in restricting businesses drives companies to not only use alternative techniques but also to outsource their animal testing to other countries where their legislation regarding product testing is loose. Since animal testing is restricted, many businesses are expanding the testing of their products to other countries that are not as tight on regulations. This is, in turn, detrimental to a countries economy because it is taking away jobs and money from circulating within that nation and giving them to another nation. The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) effort has been imposed in the European Union and represents legislation enacted to restrict emissions, animal testing, and other aspects related to chemicals. A certain amendment of this effort, however, has been enacted which not only bans the use of animal testing altogether but also prevents the outsourcing of animal testing to other countries (Bottini & Hartung, 2009). However, in doing so the amendment is not very clear. The enforcement of the legislation is not clear as to who actually will enforce it. Not only this, but the prosecution of companies and persons that indulge in such techniques utilizing animals has not been very efficient as some are able to bring their product to market using animal testing techniques (Bottini & Hartung, 2009). Despite these setbacks, proper enforcement and guidance would not allow companies to hurt the economy by outsourcing their work, and it would also require alternative techniques to be used--which are more cost-effective and would create a market for these techniques to take over the commerce for traditional animal testing techniques.

Due to the economic advantage and improvement of animal welfare presented with alternative techniques, animal testing should be banned in the United States. Alternative solutions to animal testing are much cheaper and safer than testing on animals or humans and provide an advantage to companies that are forced to test their products without the use of animals. Their low cost proves them to be economically beneficial choices and they introduce a new market to which businesses can profit. A solution to the animal testing dilemma in the United States would be to follow after Europe and ban animal testing altogether, however with some changes. By banning animal testing altogether, it allows for alternative techniques to be released widespread, as well as prevents businesses from outsourcing their product testing to other countries, taking away jobs and money from the US. However, to further dissuade companies from outsourcing and hurting the American economy, legislation in neighboring countries regarding animal testing could be heightened as well. By doing this, there is essentially nowhere to outsource, and businesses are forced to engage in alternative techniques--fueling the economy as well as proving beneficial to the companies by costing less than traditional techniques.


  1. Bottini, A. A., & Hartung, T. (2009). Food for thought… on the economics of animal testing. Altex , 26 (1), 3-16.
  2. Doke, S. K., & Dhawale, S. C. (2015). Alternatives to animal testing: A review. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal , 23 (3), 223-229.
  3. Ellis, J., Hall, M., Ong, P., Wege, L., Paterson, N., & Smith, C. (2010, January). Animal testing at Dalhousie University: A brief insight into social, economic, and environmental effects of nonhuman animal testing . Retrieved from
  4. Humane Society International. (2012, October 23). Costs of animal and non-animal testing. Retrieved January 8, 2020, from Humane Society International website:
  5. Martin, M., Knudsen, T., Judson, R., Kavlock, R., & Dix, D. (2012). Economic benefits of using adaptive predictive models of reproductive toxicity in the context of a tiered testing program. Systems Biology in Reproductive Medicine , 58 (1), 3-9.
  6. Meigs, L., Smirnova, L., Rovida, C., Leist, M. and Hartung, T. (2018) 'Animal testing and its alternatives – the most important omics is economics', ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation , 35(3), pp. 275-305. doi: 10.14573/altex.1807041.
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