Over 60 Doctors Petition National Medical Commission to Stop Animal Use in Postgraduate Medical Courses for Routine Teaching and Training

For Immediate Release:

10 December 2021

Ankita Pandey [email protected]

Hiraj Laljani [email protected]

New Delhi – In response to the draft Postgraduate (PG) Medical Education Regulations 2021, released by the National Medical Commission (NMC), which mandates the use of animals in the teaching and training of PG pharmacology and physiology courses, more than 60 medical doctors have sent an appeal to the chair of the NMC and the president of the Postgraduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB). Their petition seeks an amendment to the proposed regulations to remove the mandate to use animals and to ensure that animals are replaced by more effective, human-relevant techniques in PG courses. A similar appeal has also been sent by the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – an organisation representing 17,000 physicians.

A copy of the medical experts’ appeals can is available for download upon request.

Animals are not used for undergraduate medical education in India, but for PG teaching and training, chemicals may be applied to their skin or eyes or they may be forced to inhale toxic fumes, deliberately infected with diseases, or mutilated. Most are killed when they’re no longer useful through methods such as suffocation or dislocation of their heads.

In their appeal, the more than 60 doctors state, “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 (such as in vitro methods and human-patient simulators) and gained experience in clinical aspects (like epidemiological surveys, clinical postings, case‑based learning, and patient‑centric teaching).”

“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. “Progressive medical colleges like All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur; Government Medical College, Srinagar; Smt NHL Municipal Medical College; and Tezpur Medical College, Assam, to name a few, don’t use animals for training PG students and instead use computer-based methods or other human-relevant approaches.”

“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,” write Dr Nikita Goel and the other doctors in the letter.

PETA India 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. 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.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, aims to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering to animals before, during, or after experiments. Under section 17(2)(d) of the Act, the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals is empowered to frame rules to secure the objective that “experiments on animals are avoided wherever it is possible to do so; as for example, in medical schools, hospitals, colleges and the like, if other teaching devices such as books, models, films and the like may equally suffice”.

According to Rule 9(bb) of the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Amendment Rules, 2006, replacement alternatives not involving experiments on animals should be given due and full consideration.

PETA India – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.