PETALING JAYA, Malaysia: Animals are the best alternative to humans as test subjects, said Laboratory Animal Science Association of Malaysia.
Its president Dr Abdul Rahim Mutalib said animals were used in animal testing because they were a "complete living system" other than humans.
"Researchers need to see the reaction and response of a living being towards certain tests, for example, a vaccine over a certain period.
"The actions and response of compounds, drugs, antibiotics or vaccines in the petri dish, are not the same when introduced into animals or humans," he said, adding that products needed to go through many laboratory tests before these were tested on animals.
He said 90% of the drugs and medicine and all vaccines on the shelves today would have undergone animal testing first.
"Then, it will be certified safe for humans before being approved by regulatory agencies worldwide," said Dr Abdul Rahim in an interview yesterday.
He said animal testing or experiment facilities were nothing new in Malaysia, having been established since the early 1900s.
He said researchers wanting to conduct animal experiments must follow certain ethical guidelines.
"An approval will then be granted by the research organisation when these steps are stated by the researchers in their experimental proposal," said Dr Abdul Rahim.
SPCA Penang adviser Dr Choong Sim Poey said it was important to have a proper mechanism to ensure that animals were treated in the most humane manner.
"As a medical practitioner, I have to admit that animal testing is done in many parts of the world to develop new drugs. Otherwise, we would not have been able to come up with some of the advanced drugs to save lives," he said.
He said however there should be a body to closely monitor the activities of such research companies.
-The Star/Asia News Network