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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 97-98

Status of animal experiments in teaching pharmacology to undergraduate students

1 Department of Pharmacology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication2-Nov-2016

Correspondence Address:
Dheeraj Kumar Singh
Department of Pharmacology, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.193318

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How to cite this article:
Singh DK, Shankar P, Singh A, Lakhani P, Tutu S, Kumar A, Dixit RK. Status of animal experiments in teaching pharmacology to undergraduate students. Indian J Pharmacol 2016;48, Suppl S1:97-8

How to cite this URL:
Singh DK, Shankar P, Singh A, Lakhani P, Tutu S, Kumar A, Dixit RK. Status of animal experiments in teaching pharmacology to undergraduate students. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Dec 8];48, Suppl S1:97-8. Available from: https://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2016/48/7/97/193318


Medical curriculum is one of the lengthiest and comprises number of subjects. Pharmacology is the integral part of medical curriculum and is taught to medical students in second professional. The objectives of pharmacology teachings are to form foundation by detailed knowledge of the drugs and their rational prescribing. Practical classes, in form of pharmacy and animal experiments, form the important and integral parts of pharmacology syllabus.[1] However, in recent years, much has been said against experimentations on animal. According to the recommendations after the meeting of the Medical Council of India (MCI) governors, it was proposed that for undergraduate (UG) curriculum, in future, animal experiments would be replaced with computer-assisted learning exercises and as and where possible clinically relevant modules.[2] Therefore, the colleges should be asked to use these alternatives.

The traditional ways of teaching pharmacology are monotonous and lead to passive learning of the subject. To remain in the pace, pharmacology teaching needs modifications and advancements. In experimental laboratory, animals are used to demonstrate the effects of various drugs on animal tissue.

Till few years ago, experiments on animals used to be the integral part of teaching pharmacology in experimental laboratories.[3] Important experiments were effect of drugs on frog heart, rabbit gut, rabbit eye, etc. Various government and nongovernment organizations strongly oppose the use of animal experimentation for teaching purposes. MCI made an amendment in 2009 and instructed all medical colleges to start using methods other than animal experiments for MBBS students. Most of the medical colleges have started using alternative methods and have stopped using animals for UG teaching.

Many researchers have favored the role of animal experimentation and their necessity for the advancement of medical knowledge while animal right protection groups have always discouraged it. Hence, in recent years, development of alternatives to animal experiments is being focused. The regulatory authority in India, regarding use of animals for experimentations, is the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals and thus has a pivotal role to play at this crossroad. According to article 25 of the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals, any procedure carried out on animals for the purpose of education or training shall be restricted to those which are absolutely necessary and cannot be achieved by other comparably effective method. Animal experiments have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Most of the medicine advancements are credited to experiments on animals. Syllabus of UG students is basically concerned with providing them the knowledge of subject rather than the research orientation. However, the point to be noted is that the laws and ethics regarding animal experiments are lacking at most places. When it comes to use of animals, it is supposed to reduce, replace, and refine (rule of 3R) the animal use to minimize the suffering, pain, and distress to animals.[4] Hence, introduction of virtual teaching methods is justifiable and will also reduce the expenditure in terms of equipment, space, animals, and time.

Computer models can simulate different experiments within minutes compared to tedious animal models although with some shortcomings. However, on the brighter side, the use of alternatives’ methods has decreased the cost and time spent on animal experiments though initially these models will amount to high expenses: However, as they can be used repeatedly, the overall expenditure gets less. It is also believed that the usage of animal is of immense importance when it comes to understand the physiology and action of various drugs. Hence, these models act as a portal to carry us into a better understanding of the physiology and the effect of drugs in humans. Both faculty members and students have shown encouraging response toward the use of these replacements to animal experiments.[5] Recently, some of software have been developed to simulate animal experiments. These models are to observe the effect of drugs on the rabbit eye, bioassay of histamine using guinea-pig ileum, to observe effect of drugs on the frog heart, etc. Simulation models have also been introduced in the field of drug development. Drugs can be designed on computers and then can be tested in virtual clinical trials even on virtual organs. Development of full virtual human model is also in the pipeline.

Till recent past, students were only exposed to animal experiments; however, after the introduction of computer-simulated methods, they are getting adopted to the virtual experiments. These models also help students in performing pharmacy practical better as they entice them with more vivid methods of dispensing various drug formulations. They also aid in easy comprehension of various routes of drug administration, their pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics which could ultimately guide to better therapeutic teaching. Some other methods such as therapeutic role-play, audio-visual techniques, and clinical pharmacology case studies can act as an aid to computer-assisted learning. Overall, these methods are cheaper alternatives to the cost of purchasing and keeping large groups of animals. With the current availability of these virtual experiments among the students and the faculties, the use of animals in experimental pharmacology can be minimized. Although the use of these virtual techniques may serve as an effective way of reducing animal use yet the role of animal experiments, especially in case of research work cannot be denied completely.

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Conflicts of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Badyal DK, Bala S, Kathuria P. Student evaluation of teaching and assessment methods in pharmacology. Indian J Pharmacol 2010;42:87-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Governors Dated; 07 May, 2013. Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/meetings/BOG/2013/May/Minutes_BOG_07.5.2013. [Last accessed on 2016 Sep 19].  Back to cited text no. 2
Balcombe JP. The Use of Animals in Higher Education: Problems, Alternatives and Recommendations. Washington, DC, USA: Humane Society Press; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 3
Vasudevan K, Supriya K. Utilization of wild-caught animals in education: A case of rampant vivisection in India. Curr Sci 2011;100:818-21.  Back to cited text no. 4
Liebsch M, Grune B, Seiler A, Butzke D, Oelgeschläger M, Pirow R, et al. Alternatives to animal testing: current status and future perspectives. Arch Toxicol 2011;85:841-58.  Back to cited text no. 5


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