Animals Behind Top Drugs

Animal testing and research is behind nearly every prescription medicine.

Are you taking a prescription medicine?

Because animal research and testing were behind almost every prescription medicine available today.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires animal testing to ensure the safety of many drugs and devices.

1962 amendments to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act paved the way for the modern drug approval process, which involves preclinical tests on animals. The FDA can mandate drug sponsors or manufacturers to provide reports on “preclinical tests (including tests on animals) … adequate to justify the proposed clinical testing” or “primary data tabulations from animal or human studies,” according to federal law.

Click here to view regulations for submitting an Investigational New Drug Application with the FDA. “The investigator brochure is required to include information about the drug substance and formulation, pharmacological and toxicological effects of the drug in animals (and in humans, if known),” a 2010 FDA final rule says.

Animal testing is necessary for understanding the safety and proper dosages of new medicines and treatments. If researchers find that a drug is safe and effective through animal testing, they can begin testing it in small groups of people and then larger groups of people. Human and animal testing is required by law before a drug can be approved. However, for safety reasons the FDA requires animal testing before there can be clinical drug trials in people. It would be dangerous and extremely unethical for scientists to test drugs on humans before making sure they are safe. So, animal research and testing is an important first step. Learn more about which lab animals have contributed to the most common prescription drugs in the chart below.

What about the medications that vets prescribe for pets? Indeed, they were developed and tested with animals, too! Learn more about how dogs and cats have benefited from drugs used to treat anxiety, arthritis, heartworm, and more.


RankDrugDrug UsageSpecies
1SynthroidEnlarged thyroid; hypothyroidismRats, Dogs, Mice
2CrestorHigh cholesterolRats, Beagle dogs, Mice, Cats, Cynomolgus monkeys, Rabbits
3NexiumHeartburn; Acid RefluxRats, Beagle dogs, Rabbits, Mice
4Ventolin HFABronchospasmRats, Beagle dogs, New Zealand white rabbits
5Advair DiskusAsthma; COPD Flare-upsRats, Dogs, Mice, Rabbits, Guinea pigs, Monkeys, Hamsters
6DiovanHigh Blood PressureRats, Mice, Rabbits, Marmosets
7Lantus SolostarDiabetes mellitusRats, Beagle Dogs, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs
8CymbaltaFibromyalgia; Major Depressive & General Anxiety DisordersMice, Rats, Rabbits, Dogs
9VyvanseADHD; Severe binge eating (adults)Rats, Guinea Pigs, Beagle Dogs
10LyricaFibromyalgia; EpilepsyMice, Rats, Monkeys, Rabbits
11Spiriva HandihalerCOPD (including Bronchitis & Emphysema)Mice, Rats, Rabbits, Dogs
12LantusTypes 1 & 2 DiabetesMice, Dogs, Guinea Pigs, Rats
13CelebrexArthritis; Ankylosing SpondylitisRats, Mice, Beagle Dogs, Monkeys
14AbilifySchizophrenia & Bipolar DisorderRats, Dogs, Monkeys, Rabbits
15JanuviaType 2 DiabetesRats, Rabbits, Dogs, Monkeys
16NamendaModerate to Severe DementiaRats, Mice, Beagle Dogs
17ViagraErectile DysfunctionRats, Dogs, Mice, Rabbits
18CialisErectile DysfunctionMice, Beagle Dogs, Wistar Rats
19ZetiaHigh cholesterolRats, Dogs, Mice
20NasonexSeasonal/Year Round AllergiesRats, Rabbits, Dogs
21Suboxone Narcotic AddictionMice, Rats, Rabbits, Baboons, Dogs
22SymbicortAsthmaMice, Rats, Dogs
23BystolicHypertensionMice, Rats, Dogs
24Flovent HFAPrevent Asthma AttacksRats, Rabbits, Dogs
25OxycontinLong lasting, Moderate to Severe PainRats, Rabbits
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