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Global pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has announced it will no longer use ‘forced swim’ tests, following pressure from vegan charity PETA.

The tests, which PETA says have been ‘widely discredited’, see mice, rats, and sometimes other small animals placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning.

Experimenters have claimed the test ‘serves as a model of depression in animals and can be used to test the effectiveness of new medications for the condition’ – but this has been refuted by other scientists, according to PETA.

‘Useless experiment’

PETA US says its scientists have reviewed published studies and found that ‘dropping animals into water this way was less predictive than a coin toss of a drug’s effectiveness in humans’.

“Animals used in these tests frantically try to escape by attempting to climb up the sides of the beakers or even diving underwater in search of an exit,” said the charity.

“They paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, most start to float.”

‘Doing the right thing

“Johnson & Johnson has done the right thing in pulling the plug on the forced swim test, which is not just bad science but also hideously cruel,” PETA US neuroscientist, Dr. Emily Trunnell, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.

“PETA urges Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb to follow this company’s enlightened, business-savvy lead and stop terrifying animals this way.”

The company has pledged not to use the test in the future in its own laboratories or in outside ones.

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the editor of Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle.