GlaxoSmithKline Bans Near-Drowning Tests on Animals After Talks With PETA

PETA and Its Affiliates Have Persuaded Seven of the Top 10 Pharma Companies to Prohibit the Discredited Forced Swim Test

For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Philadelphia – Following discussions with PETA scientists, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has confirmed that it has ended its use of the widely discredited forced swim test, in which rats and other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning.

PETA and its affiliates have now prompted 14 companies—including seven of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies by revenue—to ban the forced swim test. Roche, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca have all banned it, as have Bayer, Novo Nordisk, Sage Therapeutics, and Boehringer Ingelheim. PETA is calling on Eli Lilly to follow suit.

“GlaxoSmithKline has agreed with PETA that the forced swim test doesn’t hold water and confirms that it won’t use the test in its drug development going forward,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell.. “This forward-thinking move will spare countless vulnerable animals the terror of being pointlessly forced to swim for their lives.”

Between 2002 and 2018, GSK employees published at least 29 papers that describe the use of the forced swim test in experiments involving at least 1,327 mice and 447 rats. It has been heavily criticized by scientists, who argue that floating is not a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment. The test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications in humans.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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