We're united in an effort to end the FDA's dog testing mandate

We're united in an effort to end the FDA's dog testing mandate
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They say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Today lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are finally returning the favor, working together to eliminate the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) outdated, burdensome and inhumane dog testing mandate.

Eighteen members of Congress — led by Republican Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryOn The Trail: How Nancy Pelosi could improbably become president GOP lawmaker: Systemic racism doesn't exist and there's 'more to the story' of Floyd's death We're united in an effort to end the FDA's dog testing mandate MORE (R-Pa.) and Democrat Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) — recently sent a letter to the FDA demanding answers about why the agency still forces drug makers to perform painful and ineffective tests on dogs when superior alternatives are available.

As the Congress members wrote in their letter, "dogs — even small puppies — are made to ingest or inhale large doses of drugs for months on end before being killed and dissected."

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White Coat Waste Project recently exposed that each year countless dogs are abused in laboratories to satisfy archaic FDA regulations. Heartbreakingly, beagle and hound puppies as young as one-week-old are the victims of choice precisely because they are so small, gentle, and compliant. Pain relief and anesthesia are seldom provided to avoid interfering with the test drugs.

The bipartisan coalition of lawmakers challenged the FDA's 80-year-old animal testing red tape because these tests are not just cruel to dogs, but inaccurate and expensive. A single dog test can cost companies over $800,000. And even the FDA states, "animal testing does not always predict performance in humans," and that "[m]any resources are invested in, and thus wasted on, candidate products that subsequently are found to have unacceptable profiles when evaluated in humans." 

A scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory explained, "Historically, drug trials have been done in many different types of animals. Some of them have passed animal testing, but in human trials, they've failed or even killed people." The federal government reports that fully 9 out of 10 drugs fail in human trials after passing animal tests because they are ineffective or toxic.

It's senseless to force companies to waste time and money testing human drugs on dogs when they can do better. The lawmakers explained to the FDA that allowing companies to utilize more accurate, high-tech alternatives like "organs on a chip" technology "would save time, money and dogs, and accelerate medical innovation." They're right. Studies show that these methods are more accurate than animal tests at predicting drug safety in humans.

Many companies want to employ these alternatives and avoid wasteful dog tests, but are often rejected by the FDA and even punished by having products stopped dead in their tracks in the approval process.

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The FDA has the authority to do away with this senseless red tape at any time, sparing dogs and bringing its drug approval regime here into the 21st century.

But the FDA largely hasn't yet, and that's why Congress members are taking action. In addition to the aforementioned letter, in its 2021 FDA funding bill, the House of Representatives included provisions requiring the agency to outline ways companies can currently avoid dog tests, and update its related policies. 

With bipartisan support from lawmakers and taxpayers, the Trump administration has made great progress in eliminating unnecessary and wasteful animal testing, from ending grotesque kitten cannibalism experiments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to curbing deadly experiments on dogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to announcing a historic phaseout of animal testing at the Environmental Protection Agency. A supermajority of Americans also backs the removal of the FDA's dog testing requirements. 

As a big-time dog lover, in a country full of people who share this canine affection, I think one of the most important reasons of all to push for reform is for the dogs. We owe them better than to test drugs on them, and then kill them, only to comply with some regulations first developed nearly a century ago.

You don't need me to tell you this is not an era that will go down in history for its great bipartisanship. Democrats and Republicans seem to be at war. But bipartisanship on the issue of cutting government bureaucracy to save dogs and people? There, I am very happy to say and to see, and we're united. 

Louise Linton is the founder of the Louise Linton Charitable Fund and a graduate of Pepperdine University and the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. She serves as a board adviser at the non-profit taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project.