12 Animal Testing Facts in the U.S. You Need to Know (2021)

Every year millions of animals, including mice, frogs, rabbits, rats, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, monkeys, birds, and fish, are killed in U.S. labs for drug testing, biology lessons, experiments driven by curiosity, cosmetic testing, and more.

The U.S. is one of the leading countries involved in animal testing. Animals are used as collateral damage to safely create products for human (and even other animals) use. The failure rate of animal testing is tremendous, as only 6% of vaccines are successfully brought into the market.

Research indicates that around 90% of drugs that appear to be effective and safe in animals fail in human trials. That is shocking alone, but the story goes even deeper. Keep reading to learn more about the facts of animal testing in the U.S.

The US Is a Leading User of Animal Testing

Current statistics reveal that China is the leading user of animal testing. Researchers have used approximately 20 million animals for testing purposes. Japan and the U.S. are also close, testing 15 million animals for research and experiments.

Funnily enough, It is also true that government regulations often require several animal-poisoning tests to determine the risk associated with a single new pesticide, chemical, or medicinal product.

Some of these tests require thousands of animals for testing purposes, while others are repeated 3-4 times on different animals to check their efficiency.

People usually contradict that there is no humane way to infect animals with diseases or poison them with chemicals to test the effectiveness of a vaccine. However, there are some non-animal and modern alternatives available that are cruelty-free and still effective.

Donations, Taxes, and Purchases Fund Research

People often question what the source of funding for these lab experiments is? Knowingly or unknowingly, the public funds these experiments in the form of charitable donations, purchases of products, lottery tickets, and taxes.

Government granting agencies funded by the public are one of the biggest source of funding that researchers receive. One such agency includes the National Institute of Health (NIH). Approximately 47% of the funds from NIH are used in animal testing.

In addition to this, charities, including the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and many others, are used to fund lab experiments of animals.

Even though this area receives a lot of funding for research purposes, it is impractical for the public to get accurate information regarding the experiments conducted.

Ninety Percent of Drugs Don’t Reach the Consumer

Even though millions of animals are being tested on for medical research, 90% of drugs don’t even reach patients. NIH has reported that the average period for a drug to be approved is 14 years approximately.

The process is complex, costly, and time-consuming. It also requires a lot of resources and funds. No matter how many experiments researchers conduct, the failure rate is over 90%. Also, the cost per successful drug can be massive, approximately $1 billion.

Unfortunately, less than 10% of the drugs tested on animals prove to be effective and safe. This is because most of the lab experiments fail to deliver quality results.

55% of the tests fail to provide treatment for the condition they are being tested for. They show signs of toxicity towards humans, which cannot be tested or confimed.

NIH has analyzed that most drugs don’t reach consumers because they either fail to deliver the expected results or are dangerous.

Research states that more than 92% of cancer drugs have failed in the first phase of human trials after being successfully tested on animals.

The Annals of Internal Medicine journal revealed that the findings of lab experiments on animals are often exaggerated in universities and colleges. Most of the tests prove to be unsuccessful.

For more information about what kind of animal testing is done on the medicine you consume, read on here: Are Medicines Tested on Animals?

Most Animals Are Not Legally Protected

Around 85-95% of animals used in these lab experiments, including mice, rats, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians, are not covered by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). They are denied even the basic considerations.

Not only this, but animals protected by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) are also allowed to be isolated, starved, shocked, poisoned, and burned in these experiments.

These stats are shocking, but they get even worse. We cover the legal facts of animal protection in the U.S. in more detail here: Everything You Need to Know About U.S. Animal Testing Regulations

One Hundred Million Animals Die from Testing Annually

Animals like mice, frogs, rabbits, rats, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, monkeys, birds, and fishes suffer and undergo various experiments before dying in chemical, cosmetics, and drug testing. Many animals are not even provided with painkillers.

These numbers also include the animals that are used for dissection and die in classroom experiments. In most cases where animals have been tested, there are alternate and advanced options already available.

They save money and time while decreasing the likelihood of animal suffering and deaths in animal experimenting. Researchers put animals through painful experiments for science, and there is little oversight or regulation on the labs in which these experiments are conducted.

The testing methods include forcing animals to inhale toxic fumes, drilling holes into their skulls, immobilize them in devices, and so many other tormenting things. Whether it’s for medical training, classroom sessions, cosmetics, or food testing, animals are traumatized in many ways in such tests.

The Polio Vaccine Was Tested on Animals

it wouldn’t be an honest discussion of animal testing if we didn’t include the other side of the story: when animal testing does work. The polio vaccine has radically improved the lives of many billions of people.

Scientists were able to develop this successful vaccine through animal testing. Monkeys were used to test the vaccine. In the year 1988, there were around 250,000 cases of polio. The vaccine resulted in the reduction of these cases to only 33 cases in the year 2018.

With every passing year, the cases continue to drop even further. However, was animal testing truly necessary for this to occur? You can find out everything you need to know about its fascinating origins here: The History of Animal Testing – When Did it Start?

Many Individuals Believe that Animal Testing is Morally Acceptable

Many individuals still believe that experimenting on animals is morally acceptable as it is a necessity to save human life.

People involved in animal research usually emphasize the importance of animal testing to cure multiple diseases. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at NIH brought this matter into the spotlight, taking COVID as an example.

They explained that certain diseases in which you vaccinate a particular person to eliminate a specific disease. However, they get infected with the condition making it more severe or enhancing it.

On the other hand, over half the American population feel that testing on animals is ethically wrong and should not be done. They believe that science has advanced in many ways, and researchers can conduct their work using other methods.

Over 500,000 Animals Are Harmed in Cosmetic Testing

Have you ever considered the fact that your beauty products might be causing harm to animals? Every year, more than 500,000 animals are poked, prodded, injected, and otherwise tortured for research purposes in the cosmetic industry in the U.S. alone. Around the world, this number reaches a whopping 115 million.

Animals are exposed to toxic chemicals and are injected with various dangerous chemicals for such tests. The animals that survive are later killed so that the autopsy can be analyzed. Many people are unaware of the testing process.

Here are all the cosmetic facts you must read before buying your next beauty product: Animal Testing Facts in Cosmetics You Need to Know (2021)

The Alternatives to Animal Testing Can Be Better

With advancements in technology and almost everything, researchers have found alternative methods to animal testing. These methods are expected to be cheap and accurate.

Some of these methods include in vitro testing, research with a human volunteer, and computer (in silico) modeling.

It’s been a while now that biologists have been working with computer models of human organs. In addition to this, new substances and ingredients can also be tested through computer-based simulations.

With the advancement in technology, these models have been more accurate than ever. Researchers have also come up with algorithms that can use big databases to find out the toxicity of a substance. Although some states have banned cosmetic testing; they don’t apply in all cases.

For example, there are exceptions in cases of health and environmental concerns. These bans also don’t apply when such products are exported to or imported from other countries. Also, organizations may introduce new ingredients that have not been previously tested on animals.

Alternatives to animal testing are not very popular for a few reasons. Here’s what you need to know about both sides of the argument: Animal Testing Advantages and Disadvantages

Animal Research in Federal Government

Many departments that the U.S. Federal Government regulates make use of animal experimentation in their facilities. An estimate of 1.6 million animals are present in federal labs for testing.

  • The Department of Energy tests the results of new technologies on the health of living beings.
  • The Department of Interior uses animal testing to enhance wildlife resource management.
  • The Department of Agriculture researches the quality of livestock.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) also uses animal testing to assess the safety of products that are to be sold to consumers.

These are just a few examples of the many tests that are conducted in federal laboratories each year. Some more methods include human or animal serum (a derivative of blood) and cell-culture techniques.

These alternative methods play a growing and crucial role in biomedical research.

Many researchers believe that with all the alternative methods present, nothing can entirely replace whole-animal models in any way. Researchers are also required to prevent any duplication of experiments which is cost-effective and ethically right as well.

Along with the ethical grounds, economic incentives are also present.

Random Animals Are Not Used for Research

In California, cats and dogs needed for animal testing are received from special laboratory animal breeders registered with the USDA.

These animals are selected for their health condition, genetic makeup, breed, and something that cannot only be achieved by the animals in shelter and/or pounds.

All cats and dogs should come with documents that mention their state of origin to ensure they have never been kept as pets.

In 2020, More Cats Were Used for Research in California Than Any Other State

Animal testing statistics show that 1682 cats experimented in the year 2020 in California. If we look at other states, Ohio conducts more tests on Guinea Pigs while Massachusetts conducts tests mostly on dogs.

The animals used in testing are of various types, but some are used more commonly than others. The most used animals include fish, mice, rats, and birds.

Rats and Mice are extensively used in animal testing, comprising 93% of lab animals. Now we understand from where we got the expression ‘lab rat.’ Hamsters and Guinea Pigs are (still there in the rodent family) are also extensively used.

Many lab experiments use birds for the treatment of infectious diseases, influenza, and viral infections.

The U.S. Wants to Ban Cosmetic Animal Testing

A growing number of states in the U.S. are considering banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. Many people argue that testing cosmetics on animals is outdated and cruel. This is especially true after the EU made a similar ban in 2013.

Nevada, California, and Illinois have seen new laws taken into effect to ban the use and sale of such cosmetic products. The laws formed aren’t expected to become a challenge in the industry as many companies already use non-animal testing methods.

Animal testing is already banned in India, Europe, and other places. China is the leading user of animal testing. It is expected that when the U.S. (one of the world’s largest economies) bans the sale of cosmetics that use animal testing, it will put pressure on China as well.

Animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and Cruelty-Free International are hoping to get more states to enforce these laws.

Legislations have also been introduced and made public in states like Maryland, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia. California was the first state to introduce this legislation in the year 2018.

Animal Testing Is Being Used for COVID

Covid is another recent example of animal testing for a vaccine. The COVID vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca) have all been tested on animals.

The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) has stated that labs worldwide are working with animal models, including hamsters, mice, nonhuman primates, ferrets, and more, to combat and win the race against COVID.

Researchers have placed great emphasis on the requirement of funds and monkeys for research regarding covid-19.

Good Animal Care and Science Are Inseparable

If animals are not provided with proper treatment, the knowledge and science from their studies cannot be replicated and will not be trustworthy.

Some researchers strongly support animal welfare, and they recognize that they are morally and legally obligated to ensure the wellbeing and health of the animals.

It is important to ensure that animals are used in meaningful and productive studies and are not harmed.


Millions of animals are used in lab experiments to discover the toxicity of medicines, to work on medical treatments, cosmetics testing, and much more. Many people argue that it is inhumane to experiment on animals as they are also living beings.

They say that animal testing should be replaced with alternative methods, while others say that this is the need of the hour and cannot be replaced. But the bottom line is we cannot overlook how cruel and unethical animal testing is.

We need to use all our resources and energy to ensure it becomes a thing of the past. A great way to support the cause is to stop using all cosmetics and cleaning products that you know are tested on animals. The more you boycott the industry – the more it is forced to adjust with the times.

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