A UK national newspaper has been ordered to correct an article by its regulator, after it falsely claimed that there is ‘immense’ evidence that animal testing does not lead to effective medical treatments for humans.
The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) made the ruling after UK advocacy organisation Understanding Animal Research (UAR) filed a complaint about an article in the Daily Mirror on how dogs are used in research.
The article, released both in print and online, claimed: “An immense body of empirical evidence has supported the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and disease.”
IPSO ruled that the Daily Mirror’s statement was unverified, with the publication being unable to provide recent examples, and “was being used to further the article’s central argument that animal testing was unnecessary and cruel”. It ordered the Daily Mirror to publish a correction (see the full apology below).
In its complaint UAR said that the statement was inaccurate, as well as several other claims in the article, and pointed out that it is normal for some tests to fail (see EARA feature), and that medical therapies that had failed animal tests protected humans from harm, by preventing such therapies from progressing further.
Chris Magee, at UAR, said: “We are always working behind the scenes to ensure that journalists provide accurate and un-biased reporting on animal research.”
Meanwhile, a UAR Openness Award, celebrating the work of signatories of the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, has gone to Imperial College London for its takeover of UAR’s Instagram account, where animal technologists described their role, experiences and feelings about working in animal research.
EARA member the University of Manchester was also nominated for its video explaining the complexities of new models to replace mammals in studies of early-stage brain haemorrhage.
The full Daily Mirror apology
"A previous version of this article reported claims that “[a]n immense body of empirical evidence has supported the position that animal models offer no predictive value for human response to drugs and disease.” This is inaccurate; while some studies have cast doubt on the predictive value of animal testing, we were not able to provide evidence of an “immense body of empirical evidence” that supports this position. We also reported a claim that “recent developments have significantly increased our understanding of why animals have no predictive value for human response to drugs or physiological processes associated with human disease or injury”. This is inaccurate as we were unable to provide examples of these recent developments. This correction has been published following an upheld ruling by the Independent Press Standards Organisation."