Jarrod Bailey, Michelle Thew and Michael Balls

Dogs remain the main non-rodent species in preclinical drug development. Despite the current dearth of new drug approvals and meagre pipelines, this continues, with little supportive evidence of its value or necessity. To estimate the evidential weight provided by canine data to the probability that a new drug may be toxic to humans, we have calculated Likelihood Ratios (LRs) for an extensive dataset of 2,366 drugs with both animal and human data, including tissue-level effects and Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) Level 1–4 biomedical observations. The resulting LRs show that the absence of toxicity in dogs provides virtually no evidence that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) will also be absent in humans. While the LRs suggest that the presence of toxic effects in dogs can provide considerable evidential weight for a risk of potential ADRs in humans, this is highly inconsistent, varying by over two orders of magnitude for different classes of compounds and their effects. Our results therefore have important implications for the value of the dog in predicting human toxicity, and suggest that alternative methods are urgently required.

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