Animal rights activists in mice costumes ‘drown’ during Bondi Beach protest

A group of PETA activists dressed as mice and pretended to drown in the water at Bondi Beach to protest "barbaric" forced swim tests used by pharmaceutical companies.

The whiskered protesters held up signs calling for drug manufacturer Eli Lilly to ban the practice known as the “despair” test.

The so-called experiments see small animals such as mice or hamsters placed in inescapable beakers filled with water to measure see how long they can fight to stay alive.

The test is often used in pharmaceutical research to measure the effectiveness of antidepressant medications as immobility is considered to be a sign of depression.

However, critics have long questioned the validity of the test as they claim it indicates learning or adaptation.

PETA Australia outreach and partnerships manager Emily Rice branded the test as “archaic" and "barbaric.”

She added: “PETA is calling on Eli Lilly to follow the lead of more than a dozen other pharmaceutical companies and ban this useless test."

PETA said in a statement: "Statistically, the test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

"Between 1993 and 2019, Eli Lilly employees published at least 22 papers and submitted at least 11 patent applications describing the use of the notorious test — but none of the drugs tested was brought to market for depression.”

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Last year, PETA neuroscientist Dr Emily Trunnell and psychologist Dr Constança Carvalho published a paper that concluded that the test was ineffective.

The research claimed that of the 109 compounds tested using at least 15,238 animals, only 31 had been investigated for their possible effects on depression in humans – and of the 31, only seven were predictive of the reaction in humans.

Eli Lilly has been approached by the Daily Star for comment.

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