'No reason party pills have to be tested on animals'

NEIL REID
Last updated 05:00 09/12/2012
Siouxsie Wiles
Siouxsie Wiles.

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A leading New Zealand microbiologist says there is no reason why party pills have to be tested on animals.

Siouxsie Wiles - who heads the Bioluminescent Superbugs Group at the University of Auckland - said there were many alternatives which scientists could employ instead of testing party pill compounds on dogs and rodents.

"There are lots of things you can do to see if a compound is dangerous before you get it into an animal," Wiles said.

"Is it likely to be carcinogenic? Well, you can do that with bacteria. Does it kill cells? Well, you can do that with cells from anywhere in the body without going near an animal.

"If you are looking at whether [these compounds] affect brain chemistry, then again there are experiments that have nothing to do with animals."

Wiles has been internationally recognised for "considerably reducing" the number of mice she has used in her studies. Last year she was presented with the National Animal Ethics Committee's Three Rs Award for her efforts to minimise animal use.

Health officials will need to approach an Animal Ethics Committee for permission to test party pill compounds on animals, including rats, dogs or mice.

Even if there was a case that animals had to be used, Wiles believed the chosen animals would be mice, not dogs. But should the committee reject the request, animal testing could go ahead.

Section 118 of the Animal Welfare Act gives Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne the power to approve animal testing if he can argue it is in the "national interest".

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