A leading animal rights group wants four big drug makers to abandon a decades-old test that has been used for antidepressant research, over concerns the testing may traumatize rodents while failing to yield any reliable outcomes for drug development.

At issue is the so-called forced swim test in which mice, rats, guinea pigs, and gerbils are placed in beakers filled with water and forced to swim in order to keep from drowning. The test has been used to gauge the effectiveness of antidepressants on the theory that an animal will swim or struggle longer, and spend less time floating, after being given one of these pills.

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