Safety Testing

Comment on this policy

The AVMA supports research to discover and develop safe and efficacious drugs, vaccines, biologicals, and medical devices that benefit animals and humans. Protecting the health and welfare of humans and animals is also the top priority of governmental and regulatory organizations globally, which do so by ensuring the efficacy and safety of drugs, vaccines, biologicals, and medical devices. 

 In many cases animal studies are required to determine the therapeutic efficacy and safety of novel treatments or devices for human and animal diseases and conditions.  Such studies may employ animal-based safety testing and, if so, that testing must encompass scientifically valid principles and procedures.  External third-party review and assurance of good animal welfare1,2 are highly recommended. 

When animals are used in safety testing, veterinarians are committed to acting ethically and adhering to sound animal welfare principles, including compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations; contemporary standards of veterinary care; and peer review of animal welfare by an oversight body (e.g.  IACUCs).  

The AVMA strongly supports the application of the 3 Rs, as defined by Russell and Burch3, to safety testing by refining testing methods, reducing the number of animals used, and replacing animals when appropriate. As such, the AVMA supports continuing efforts to develop and validate alternative safety testing methods. 


1. National Research Council. Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. 8th ed. Washington, District of Columbia: National Academy Press. 2011. Available at: https://www.aaalac.org/resources/Guide_2011.pdf. Accessed Jan 3, 2018.  

2. Federation of Animal Science Societies. Guide for the care and use of agricultural animals in research and teaching. 3rd ed. Available at: https://www.aaalac.org/about/Ag_Guide_3rd_ed.pdf. Accessed Jan 3, 2018.  

3. Russell WMS, Burch RL. The principles of humane experimental technique. Methuen, London. 1959. Available at: http://altweb.jhsph.edu/pubs/books/humane_exp/het-toc. Accessed Jan 3, 2018.