Refinement – University of Copenhagen


Painful dilemmas: The ethics of animal-based pain research

M. Magalhães-SantAna, P. Sandøe & I. A. S. Olsson
Animal Welfare. UFAW. 2009 


While it has the potential to deliver important human benefits, animal-based pain research raises ethical questions, because it involves inducing pain in sentient beings. Ethical decision-making, connected with this variety of research, requires informed harm-benefit analysis, and the aim of this paper is to provide information for such an analysis. We present an overview of the different models and their consequences for animal welfare, showing that, of the many animal models available, most have a considerable welfare impact on the animal. While the usual approach to pain control through administration of analgesic substances is usually unsuitable in pain research, refinement remains an option, both within the experimental protocol and in general husbandry and handling. Drawing on the overview, we develop a discussion of the ethical acceptability of animal-based pain research against the background of the kinds of harm done to the animals involved, the potential for refinement, and the expected benefits of the research.

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Ethics and Refinement in Animal Research

By I. A. S. Olsson, A. K. Hansen & P. Sandøe
Science. AAAS. 2007


Based on a case study we conclude that scientists and journals could and should do more to secure the ethical standards of animal use in biomedical research: Scientists often justify animal use referring to the scientific value and biomedical importance (2). However, except from a purely anthropocentric perspective, ethical concern about compromised animal welfare cannot be justified by human benefits alone (1). It is equally important that the benefits are achieved with a minimum of negative effects to the animals involved. Thus scientists must apply refinement, the third R of the so-called 3Rs (3). But here scientists seem sometimes to do less than they should and journals fail in their duty to enforce high ethical standards. 

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