Why do charities fund animal research? – A leaflet for the public

We’ve published a new leaflet for our members: Why do medical research charities fund animal research? which looks to answer the public's most common questions about animal research.

Why have we produced this leaflet?

At AMRC we believe that everyone in the medical research sector, including charities, should be open and honest about the use of animals in research. That’s why we’ve signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research together with universities, the research councils, pharmaceutical companies and charities, and why we are working with our members to help them talk about their research involving animals. A recent government survey has also shown that the public broadly supports animal research where necessary and wants to know more about it, with over half of people surveyed asking for more information on what is being done to find alternatives and improve animal welfare.

A few of our members have produced leaflets for the public explaining why they fund animal research, with examples of where this type of research has made a real difference to patients. We realise many charities don’t necessarily have the time or the resources to design leaflets like these, so we’ve produced Why do medical research charities fund animal research? a leaflet which our members can give out to their supporters, patient groups and the public.

What’s in it?

We’ve designed the leaflet to answer the most common questions people have about animal research. This includes what we can learn from animal research; how the animals are cared for; and what is being done to reduce the use of animals in research.  Several case studies are included to demonstrate where research using animals has led to breakthroughs in the discovery of life saving treatments, and also an example of where researchers are working with the The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) to replace animals with stem cells in research into Alzheimer’s disease.

Who’s it for?

The leaflet is for our members to use when and wherever they meet supporters and the public, including at patient meetings, fundraising events or in their charity shops. This week we’ve sent 20 copies of the leaflet to all of our members - if you want any more just let us know.

We’ve also provided a pdf version in case you want to have it available on your website, and can supply you with the artwork and text, should you wish to customise the leaflet with your own examples and branding.

What else is AMRC doing to increase public awareness of animal research?

We’ve recently produced a practical guide Talking to the public about animal research for our charities, which is packed full of advice on handling animal research queries from the public, having a position statement on animals and giving people more opportunities to hear about your research. In July we also held a workshop for press and communications staff on talking about animal research.

Following the signing of the Concordat, we have produced a guide for AMRC members on how they can help AMRC meet its commitment to promote a more open public conversation about animal research.

Our animal research policy and position statement have been updated with the help of our Animal Research Working Group. Going forward all our members will consider the 3Rs in their peer review processes and publicly support AMRC’s statement on the use of animals in research. We have put together a guidance pack that explains what the changes are, why they are important, and how they can be implemented.

We’re also having a session on animal research as part of our upcoming Essential communications workshop on 22 October. We’ll be discussing how your charity can be as prepared as possible for questions on animal research and we’ve got the British Heart Foundation lined up to tell us how they take a pro-active approach by talking about animal research in their fundraising campaigns.