An insufferable business : ethics, nonhuman animals and biomedical experiments

Peggs, Kay (2015) An insufferable business : ethics, nonhuman animals and biomedical experiments. Animals, 5(3), pp. 624-642. ISSN (online) 2076-2615


Each year millions of nonhuman animals suffer in biomedical research for human health benefits. Clinical ethics demand that nonhuman animals are used in the development of pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Nonhuman animals are also used for fundamental biomedical research. Biomedical research that uses nonhuman animals is big business. This paper explores how such research generates profits and gains for those associated with the industry. Research establishments, scientists and other professionals who work in laboratories, companies that supply nonhuman animal subjects and equipment for the research, and corporations that sell the resulting products are among those that benefit financially. Clinical ethical partiality to human health benefits enables these beneficiaries to claim that such research is unquestionably ethical because it conforms to required clinical ethical codes. The paper argues that even this anthropocentric form of ethics is compromised by the pervasiveness of profit-making industry. Because nonhuman animal-based biomedical research is considered to have a more ethical purpose than other forms of experiments that use nonhuman animal subjects the focus on biomedical ethics, that screens out the profits made, enables the paper to conclude with a challenge to the assumption about the ethical legitimacy of the use of nonhuman animal experiments across the board.

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