It's rather hard to tell whether that's correct. It seems unlikely to be right if we take as fixed the requirement that drugs be proven safe via animal testing before sale, as the consumer surplus over the entire market would likely dominate, but if the legislation did not require such stringent safety-proofs, then it likely wouldn't.
More broadly, I wonder whether the animal testing regime in place is right. Currently, anyone undertaking animal testing must use an ethical review board and must demonstrate, to the board's satisfaction, that the costs to the animals are dominated by the benefits of the research, and that the lowest-harm way of undertaking the research was chosen. But where some research applications, like legal highs, get folks' backs up, we wind up with a politicised regime with patchwork bans on testing.
An alternative framework would have the review board only assess whether the harms likely to be experienced by the animals were trivial, moderate, serious, or "wish I'd never been born" bad. Run that against a fee matrix that charges based on the severity of harm and the animal's sentience, so an earthworm would basically be free to abuse but fees for primate testing would be close to jury awards for compensatory damages for somebody torturing children. Then, use the collected funds to run retirement homes for former lab animals.
Advantages: no politicisation of which benefits get to count;
Disadvantages: We might miss out on those medical advances that cannot be achieved without primate testing. And, there's no guarantee that some politician wouldn't use animal testing as an excuse to ban things he didn't like regardless of the regime.
Utilitarianism gets messy when animals start counting. Here's Tyler Cowen on policing nature and on vegetarianism [book chapter here].
- Barn pork and free-range
- Animal welfare and Crafar Farms
- Utility-enhancing constraints and dairy - as update, I really think that the MAF budget for animal welfare inspections should be countercyclical to milk prices. Dumb things start happening when milk prices drop.
- Partial and General food equilibria: vegetarianism, marginal lands and pastoral agriculture
- Testing bans - how far back should we go?