European industries plan to reduce animal testing

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European industry groups have agreed to work with the government to support alternatives to animal testing.

At the end of last year, industry groups and the European Commission released a declaration establishing a voluntary European Partnership to Promote Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing. Participants will contribute to an annual action program of short-, medium-, and long-term activities and responsibilities starting early this year.

In particular, the action program will help coordinate research and strategies for alternatives to animal testing—and facilitate the validation and regulatory acceptance of new approaches.

According to the most recent EC figures, Europe uses about 10.7 million animals per year for testing. More than 60 percent of animal testing in 2002 was for research and development in human medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, and fundamental biology studies; about 16 percent was for production and quality control of products and devices in human medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry; and about 10 percent was for toxicologic and other safety evaluation.

An EC directive already requires industry to apply available methods to replace, reduce, and refine animal tests. The EC initiated the new partnership with industry to accelerate the process.

Participants in the partnership include the European Chemical Industry Council; European Crop Protection Association; EuropaBio; European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association; International Association for Soaps, Detergents, and Maintenance Product Industry in Europe; and the European Federation on Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations.