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Painful dilemmas: the ethics of animal-based pain research

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Abstract:

While it has the potential to deliver important human benefits, animal-based pain research raises ethical questions, because it involves inducing pain in sentient beings. Ethical decision-making, connected with this variety of research, requires informed harm-benefit analysis, and the aim of this paper is to provide information for such an analysis. We present an overview of the different models and their consequences for animal welfare, showing that, of the many animal models available, most have a considerable welfare impact on the animal. While the usual approach to pain control through administration of analgesic substances is usually unsuitable in pain research, refinement remains an option, both within the experimental protocol and in general husbandry and handling. Drawing on the overview, we develop a discussion of the ethical acceptability of animal-based pain research against the background of the kinds of harm done to the animals involved, the potential for refinement, and the expected benefits of the research.

Keywords: ANIMAL MODELS; ANIMAL WELFARE; ETHICS; LABORATORY ANIMALS; PAIN; THREE RS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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