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Experiments on animals are cruel and unethical, but did you know they don’t even lead to treatments and cures for humans?

The most recent independent study shows that a staggering 90% of basic research, most of which involves animals, fails to lead to treatments for humans. Yet the biggest funder of research in the U.S., the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spends nearly half its annual budget on animal studies. That was $23 billion down the drain in 2023.

Why is half the research budget wasted on studies that fail 90% of the time?

We need a better way—and PETA scientists have come up with it. The Research Modernization Deal outlines a road map and strategy for optimizing our nation’s investment in research to cure disease—by ending funding for strategies that don’t work (i.e., experiments on animals) and investing in research that’s relevant to humans. In 2021, after PETA entities presented the Research Modernization Deal to members of the European Parliament, that body passed (almost unanimously) a resolution calling on the European Commission to create an action plan to end all experiments on animals.

The U.S. is in urgent need of such a plan. So PETA U.S. has given the Research Modernization Deal to NIH and other federal agencies—except for the Environmental Protection Agency, which has already worked with PETA scientists to begin phasing out animal tests.

The Current System Is Broken

A mouse on top of a cage, with a white gloved hand reaching for them.

NIH has failed to take effective steps to address the following problems:

  • Ninety-five percent of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animal tests fail in human clinical trials, most because they don’t work or actually turn out to be dangerous.
  • The failure rate of new drugs developed using animals in specific disease research areas exceeds 95%. Here are a few examples.
    • HIV vaccine—100%
    • Stroke—100% (based on 1,000 new agents tested in animals in 100 clinical trials)
    • Alzheimer’s disease—99.6%
    • Cancer—96.6%
  • Animals are heavily used in preclinical studies, and up to 89% of such studies can’t be reproduced, even though reproducibility is a critical component of scientific research.

Consider this: 5.8 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. But treatments that have appeared promising in mice simply haven’t worked in humans. The U.S. is expected to spend $1.1 trillion on research for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by 2050—but if we stick with our current path, most of that money will be wasted on cruel and pointless animal experiments. No cure for humans is in sight.

This disastrous boondoggle throws good money after bad. Reliance on animal models is diverting funds from more promising areas of research and delaying the development of effective drugs and treatments.

The majority of Americans oppose animal experiments. A 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that most Americans (52%) oppose the use of animals in experimentation. People who continue to support it—who are in the minority—assume that the harm to animals is outweighed by the benefits to humans. But now we know that animal experiments don’t actually help humans.

What’s the Research Modernization Deal About?

PETA’s Research Modernization Deal maps out a strategy for replacing the use of animals in experiments with human-relevant methods. It includes the following:

  • Eliminating the use of animals immediately in areas where they have already shown to be poor surrogates for humans
  • Critically reviewing additional areas of research to determine where animal use can be phased out
  • Introducing an ethical cost-benefit analysis system into U.S. policies governing the use of animals in biomedical research
  • Promoting the international harmonization and acceptance of non-animal testing methods among government agencies and research bodies
  • Redirecting funds from animal experiments to non-animal research
  • Educating and training researchers and regulators in non-animal research and testing approaches

It’s Time for the Research Modernization Deal!

Compassion and scientific breakthroughs aren’t mutually exclusive. Good science and sound ethics can propel us toward the shared goal of better health.

Organizations Endorsing the Research Modernization Deal

Cured logo
National Hispanic Medical Association Logo
Champ1 Research Foundation Logo
International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society Logo
national lgbt cancer network

National Medical Association

What Experts Say

“The National Medical Association strongly supports the vision and plan articulated in PETA’s ‘Research Modernization Deal’ that offers a step-wise guide to eliminate misguided experiments on animals and instead prioritize more effective, ethical and economical non-animal research methods that will better advance human medical research for all.”

—Yolanda Lawson, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., Chair, Board of Trustees, National Medical Association

“The National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), representing the interests of 50,000 licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States, does not conduct, fund, commission, or support tests on animals. The NHMA strongly supports PETA’s ‘Research Modernization Deal.’”

—Elena Rios, M.D., MSPH, FACP, Former President and CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association

“The enterprise of science prides itself on being evidence-based. However, in recent years, mounting evidence has suggested that data from animal research cannot be applied reliably or confidently to humans. PETA’s ‘Research Modernization Deal’ distills this evidence into a short but powerful report that will help steer biomedical research along a more human-relevant and humane course.”

—Rear Admiral Marion Balsam, M.D., Medical Corps, U.S. Navy (retired), Former Commander Naval Medical Center Portsmouth 

“Speaking as an academic physician neuropathologist researcher with over 30 years of experience in diagnosis and treatment of degenerative brain diseases, and as recognized by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease as one of the top 100 Alzheimer’s disease investigators, I applaud PETA’s ‘Research Modernization Deal.’”

—Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D., Professor and Director of Neuropathology Fellowship Program, Department of Pathology, University of California–San Diego School of Medicine

“As a physician and person with a fatal disease for which there is no cure, I support a plan to redirect research funding toward human studies aimed at treating human problems that are amenable to amelioration or cure and away from experiments on animals. PETA’s Research Modernization Deal provides such a plan.”

—Thomas J. Poulton, M.D., FAAP, FACP, FCCM

What Congress Says

In September 2019, U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) confronted NIH—the largest funder worldwide of experiments on animals—about its failure to keep and make public a basic inventory of the number and species of animals it uses in experimentation. She called on the agency to count the animals and provide a plan to reduce the number it uses. See her letter to then–NIH Director Francis Collins.

In February 2022, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) sent a letter signed by eight members of Congress to NIH Acting Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak urging a phaseout of animal experiments. The bipartisan proposal suggests that the agency immediately eliminate funding for animal experiments that we know fail to translate to humans, identify all other areas in which animal experiments consistently fail and end funding for them, and prioritize funding modern, human-relevant research.

“As an animal lover and firm supporter of animal rights, it is deeply concerning to me to see the NIH’s continued funding of cruel and ineffective research on animals,” said Mace. “The animal experiments led by NIH have not resulted in treatments, vaccines, or cures for human diseases. NIH should focus on modernizing research beneficial for humans and work to phase out these unproductive and heartless experiments on animals.”

“Since I came to Congress, it has been a priority of mine to reduce the needless suffering of animals caused by costly and ineffective animal experiments,” said Lieu. “I’m pleased to join Representative Mace in calling on the NIH to phase out animal experiments, which often fail to lead to treatments, vaccines, and cures for human diseases. Last year, we saw the European Parliament take action to modernize scientific innovation without the use of animals in research and testing. It’s time for us to do the same. I’m honored to join in this bipartisan effort to protect innocent animals from useless suffering and look forward to the NIH’s response.”

—What You Can Do—

We need all lawmakers to understand how much money NIH currently wastes. Please send a polite e-mail to your members of Congress urging them to mandate that NIH stop throwing away taxpayer money on cruel, useless animal experiments and instead focus on modern, non-animal research methods.

Putting your subject line and letter into your own words will help draw attention to your e-mail.

Ask your legislators to support PETA’s Research Modernization Deal.

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