Victory: Roche Ends Near-Drowning Test on Animals

PETA Celebrates As One of the 10 Biggest Pharmaceutical Firms in the World Abandons Cruel, Controversial Forced Swim Test

For Immediate Release:
July 3, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Basel, Switzerland – Following an appeal from PETA, PETA Switzerland and PETA Germany, pharma giant Roche stated that, beginning this year, it will no longer use the widely discredited forced swim test, in which mice, rats, and other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim in order to keep from drowning.

Roche joins Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie in ending its use of this test, becoming the third top 10 pharmaceutical company to take this step. PETA is calling on Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, and Pfizer to follow suit.

Experimenters have historically claimed that the forced swim test is capable of measuring an animal’s despair and can be used to test the effectiveness of new medications for human depression, but scientists refute this. A review of published studies carried out by PETA scientists concluded that dropping animals into water this way was less predictive than a coin toss of a drug’s effectiveness in humans. Animals used in these tests frantically try to escape by attempting to climb up the sides of the beakers or even diving underwater in search of an exit. They paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, most start to float.

“The forced swim test is as cruel as it is bad science, and PETA and PETA Germany thank Roche for doing the right thing in abandoning this outdated practice,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “PETA urges Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb to join the growing movement to stop terrorizing animals in useless tests.”

Between 2001 and 2018, Roche published at least 11 manuscripts that describe the use of the forced swim test in experiments involving more than 800 mice and rats.

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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