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In recognition of the need for the appropriate and humane use of animals in research, the American Academy of Neurology endorses and supports the appropriate and responsible use of animals as experimental subjects.
Most scientists and philosophers take the ethical position that animal testing in the pursuit of medical progress is desirable, as long as animal suffering is minimized. However, a range of viewpoints exist—on the use of animals in research and on the notion of “animal rights.” For example, the (retired) philosopher Tom Regan asserts that animals have moral rights, though he also argues that to save human lives it is permissible to kill animals. Bernard Rollin, a professor of philosophy, animal sciences, and biomedical sciences at Colorado State University, asserts that any benefits to human beings cannot outweigh animal suffering.
Scientists and governments state that animal testing should cause as little suffering to animals as possible, and that animal tests should only be performed where necessary. In many labs, the guiding principles for the use of animals in research are “The Three Rs”:
1. REPLACEMENT refers to the preferred use of non-animal methods over animal methods whenever it is possible to achieve the same scientific aim.
2. REDUCTION refers to methods that enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals, or to obtain more information from the same number of animals.
3. REFINEMENT refers to methods that alleviate or minimize potential pain, suffering or distress, and enhance animal welfare for the animals still used.
▸ aan.com/go/science/animals : You can read the AAN's position statement on the use of animals in neurological research, listen to a podcast about the topic, and find other resources here.
▸ Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, Regarding Animals. Temple University Press, 1996. Arluke is an anthropologist who researches the culture and ethics of animal use in biomedicine. For this book, he worked in clinics, shelters, and laboratories, cleaning cages, assisting in surgery, and participating in animal experiments.
▸ Russell W. M. S. and R. L. Burch. The Principles of Humane Experimental Techniques. Methuen, 1958. This seminal book, by scientists William Russell and Rex Burch, first proposed the “The Three Rs.”
▸ Smith, Richard. “Animal Research: The Need for a Middle Ground.” British Medical Journal, February 3, 2001, pp. 248–249. Richard Smith, M.D., former editor of the British Medical Journal, argues in this article that polarized positions oversimplify current public discussion on the issue.
For a full listing of patient organizations, go toneurologynow.com
American Academy of Neurology Foundation aan.com/go/foundation 1-800-879-1960
AAN Website (For doctors and patients) AAN.com
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke ninds.nih.gov
Well Spouse Association wellspouse.org 1-800-838-0879
Alzheimer's Association alz.org 1-800-272-3900
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center alzheimers.org 1-800-438-4380
Alzheimer's Foundation of America alzfdn.org 1-866-232-8484
Association for Frontotemporal Dementias FTD-Picks.org 1-866-507-7222
Autism Society of America autism-society.org 1-800-3AUTISM (1-800-328-8476)
Autism Speaks, Inc. autismspeaks.org 212-252-8584
Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership grasp.org 1-888-474-7277
American Brain Tumor Association abta.org 1-800-886-2282
National Brain Tumor Society Braintumor.org 1-800-934-2873
United Cerebral Palsy ucp.org 1-800-872-5827
Dystonia Foundation dystonia-foundation.org 1-800-377-DYST (1-800-377-3978)
Spasmodic Torticollis spasmodictorticollis.org 1-888-445-4588
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) CUREepilepsy.org 312-255-1801
Epilepsy Foundation epilepsyfoundation.org 1-800-332-1000
National Headache Foundation headaches.org 1-888-NHF-5552 (1-888-643-5552)
Migraine Research Foundation migraineresearchfoundation.org 212-249-5402
Hereditary Disease Foundation hdfoundation.org 212-928-2121
Huntington's Disease Society of America hdsa.org 1-800-345-HDSA (1-800-345-4372)
Hydrocephalus Association hydroassoc.org ; 1-888-598-3789
National Hydrocephalus Foundation nhfonline.org 1-888-857-3434
MSFriends msfriends.org 1-877-MSFRIENDS
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America msassociation.org , 1-800-532-7667
Multiple Sclerosis Foundation msfocus.org 1-800-225-6495
National Multiple Sclerosis Society nationalmssociety.org 1-800-FIGHT-MS (1-800-344-4867)
Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America myasthenia.org 1-800-541-5454
ALS Association alsa.org 1-800-782-4747
Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association charcot-marie-tooth.org 610-499-9264 1-800-606-CMTA (2682)
Kennedy's Disease Association kennedysdisease.org 559-658-5950
Moebius Syndrome Foundation moebiussyndrome.com 1-660-834-3406
Muscular Dystrophy Association mda.org 1-800-FIGHT-MD (1-800-344-4863)
Neuropathy Association neuropathy.org ; 212-692-0662
Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, Inc. sp-foundation.org ; 1-877-773-4483
American Pain Foundation painfoundation.org 1-888-615-PAIN (1-888-615-7246)
American Parkinson Disease Association apdaparkinson.org 1-800-223-2732
International Essential Tremor Foundation essentialtremor.org 1-888-387-3667
Lewy Body Dementia Association lbda.org
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research michaeljfox.org ; 1-800-708-7644
National Ataxia Foundation ataxia.org 763-553-0020
National Parkinson Foundation parkinson.org 1-800-327-4545
Parkinson's Disease Foundation pdf.org 1-800-457-6676
Society for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy curepsp.org 1-800-457-4777
National Sleep Foundation sleepfoundation.org 202-347-3471
American Stroke Association strokeassociation.org 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653)
National Stroke Association stroke.org 1-800-787-6537
Tourette Syndrome Association tsa-usa.org 718-224-2999
Brain Injury Association of America biausa.org 1-800-444-6443