Doctors oppose animal use in PG pharmacology and physiology courses, write to NMC
New Delhi: Claiming that using animals is unnecessary for routine teaching and training of PG pharmacology and physiology courses, more than 60 doctors have approached the National Medical Commission (NMC) and have requested the Commission to ensure that animals are replaced by more effective, human-relevant techniques in PG courses.
This comes as a response to the draft Postgraduate (PG) Medical Education Regulations 2021, released by the National Medical Commission (NMC), which mandates the use of animals in teaching and training of PG pharmacology and physiology courses, reports IANS.
NMC had clarified in the Draft PG Medical Regulations 2021 that, "Animal experimentation should continue to be included as an integral part of the competency based curriculum of Postgraduate Courses in Physiology and Pharmacology in medical institutions and the concerned medical institutions shall ensure that all governing statutory regulations with regard to the use of animal experimentation in Postgraduate Courses in teaching and training of the said Postgraduate courses are strictly adhered to."
Pointing out that if the students continue to use animals in their courses they would miss the emerging animal-free trends and employment opportunities, the doctors have requested the apex medical education regulatory body to amend the proposed guidelines and remove the mandate to use animals.
"It is unnecessary to use animals for routine teaching and training of PG pharmacology and physiology students. Medical students - and India - would benefit more if the students developed practical skills using human-relevant research techniques and gained experience in clinical aspects like epidemiological surveys, clinical postings, case based learning, and patient centric teaching", said doctors in their appeal.
"If we fail to train PG students to use the latest technology or to equip them with knowledge relevant to their future careers, whether in industry or academia, they will miss the emerging animal-free trends and employment opportunities," writes Dr Nikita Goel and the other doctors in the letter.
PETA India has also sent letters to NMC and PGMEB pointing out that several Indian medical school studies have confirmed that non-animal approaches are effective at meeting learning objectives.
"This proposed mandate to use animals for teaching and training is out of step with modern science and betrays the animal-friendly values of today's students," says PETA India Science Policy Advisor Dr Ankita Pandey. She added that the medical colleges like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur; Government Medical College, Srinagar; NHL Municipal Medical College; and Tezpur Medical College, Assam, don't use animals for training PG students and instead use computer-based methods or other human-relevant approaches.
According to experts, these methods facilitate repeatability of the experiment, improve students' comprehension of experimental concepts, enhance their retention capacity, and bypass many other issues encountered when experimenting on animals.