GlaxoSmithKline Confirms: No More Near-Drowning Tests on Animals

For Immediate Release:

2 June 2020


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]

GlaxoSmithKline Confirms: No More Near-Drowning Tests on Animals

Following Talks With PETA and Its Affiliates, Pharmaceutical Company Permanently Ends Use of Cruel Forced Swim Test

London – British multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has permanently 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 – after discussions with PETA and its affiliates. GSK becomes the 14th company and the 11th pharmaceutical company – joining Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, AbbVie, Roche, AstraZeneca, and others – to commit to not using the test after talks with PETA affiliates.

“PETA congratulates GlaxoSmithKline for ending its use of the forced swim test, which terrifies animals and fails humans who are suffering from depression,” says PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines. “The company has taken an important step towards protecting vulnerable rats, mice, and other small animals from this hideous experiment, and we urge other companies to follow suit.”

Animals used in the forced swim test, which is claimed to shed light on human depression, frantically try to escape by attempting to climb up the sides of the beakers they’re dropped into 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 – which scientific data (and common sense) suggests is a learned and adaptive behaviour that saves energy, is beneficial for survival, and is unrelated to depression. The forced swim test doesn’t accurately predict whether a drug will work as a human antidepressant and only delays the development of effective new treatments for depression, which are desperately needed.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. PETA is now urging Eli Lilly to ban the forced swim test on all species.

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