Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has ruled out the controversial LD50 animal test as part of the pending psychoactive substances testing regime, and said no decisions have been made on whether animal testing will be needed at all.
“And no decisions will be made without consultation with other ministries and appropriate ethics committee consideration,” Mr Dunne said.
“At this point, the Health Ministry is actively working on finding alternatives to animal testing wherever possible, including to the controversial LD50 test which I will not allow to be part of any regime.
LD50 is a test where doses of a tested drug are given to a sample group of animals until half of the test group dies.
“Frankly, it is a horrible test. No one wants it. We are aware that other jurisdictions have moved away from it, and I expect New Zealand officials to look at what alternatives are possible as we construct this regime,” Mr Dunne said.
He said, however, that the regime may require some animal testing to make sure the substances are safe.
“Human safety is the paramount consideration, but in achieving that, we follow the 3-R protocol which mean reducing animal testing , refining it whenever we have to use it, and replacing it whenever we can.”
Mr Dunne said he has a great deal of sympathy with the view that it is sad to test legal highs on animals, as opposed to testing of a necessary medicine.
“I understand that, but I think we would see very different questions if we do not test these products and someone dies.
Mr Dunne said he found the Greens criticism of the testing on animals “ironic in the extreme”.
“They need to take a long look at their own unrelenting pro-drug history.
“The Greens do not have a leg to stand on in this debate. They have never met a drug they didn’t like and attempted to support through Parliament.
“It is beyond rich for them to come out asking who is looking after the animals when the question that needs to be put to the Greens is who is looking after young New Zealanders?
“The Greens are New Zealand’s pro-drug party,” Mr Dunne said.