Victory! Pharma Giant Pfizer Bans the Cruel Forced Swim Test

Published by Danny Prater.

Victory! Following nearly a year of PETA pressure, the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has committed to no longer conducting or funding cruel forced swim test experiments on animals. These tests—in which small animals are dropped into inescapable beakers of water and forced to swim to keep from drowning—dubiously claim to shed light on human depression. However, the test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications, and 18 years of these experiments at Pfizer didn’t lead to any marketable drugs to treat human depression.

According to published papers, Pfizer employees had used at least 1,270 mice and rats in forced swim test experiments since 1991. This victory means no more small animals will be terrified in near-drowning experiments.

forced swim test, near-drowning test

PETA’s bold protests against Pfizer pushed the company to join other leading pharmaceutical giants—including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, AbbVie, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Sage Therapeutics, AstraZeneca, and Novo Nordisk A/S—that have banned the forced swim test. This exciting progress for animals means that companies agree with PETA: It’s time to invest in humane, advanced, animal-free research methods that might actually help human patients.

The bottom line: The forced swim test is cruel, and it’s bad science. These experiments do nothing more than terrify animals and delay the development of new effective treatments that are so desperately needed.

What You Can Do

More than half a million PETA supporters took action, e-mailing Pfizer to urge the company to commit to banning the forced swim test—and it worked. You can join our powerful online activist network.

Pharma giant Eli Lilly has refused to enact a ban on this cruel and useless test. Below, you can contact the company with the quick click of a button, letting it know that experiments on animals are an unethical waste of both resources and lives.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind