Animal Experiments

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered am ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady Scottish National Party, Glasgow North

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to end the use of LD50 testing on animals.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK supports work to develop New Approach Methodologies which can provide information on chemical hazards and risk assessment without the use of animals.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is the UK regulatory authority for veterinary medicines. The VMD assesses applications submitted by the veterinary pharmaceutical industry in line with national and international regulations and guidance to ensure safe and effective veterinary medicines of good quality are marketed. These requirements may therefore necessitate animal testing either to develop and register new veterinary medicines or for routine product quality control, to ensure the continued quality, safety and efficacy batch to batch. Non-animal tests are not always available. The VMD is committed to phasing out the use of animals for testing purposes where possible, in accordance with the principles of 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement). Furthermore, the UK is a signatory to the European Pharmacopoeia (which sets minimum quality standards of medicines) and the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes. This commitment to the 3Rs is also enshrined in the UK’s Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 under which scientific procedures in animals are regulated.

For veterinary medicines significant progress in non-animal testing has been made in recent years, including the possibility of replacing animals by in vitro suitable cell cultures in LD50-type testing methods, and the relevant regulatory quality standards and testing requirements have been revised accordingly for these specific medicines. Many Marketing Authorisation Holders for these specific medicines have already, and more recently, introduced these changes to their authorised medicines, which will reduce the number of animals used. Implementation of new tests for existing products can be a complicated process, requiring extensive validation and it is not always possible to replace all of the existing animal tests with in vitro non-animal replacements for each existing authorised product. The relevant UK Competent Authority for regulation of these medicines will continue to monitor the use of animals in these tests and to recommend use of non-animal tests where possible.

The Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation (the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs, Andrew Griffith) recently announced that the Government will publish a plan to accelerate the development, validation and uptake of technologies and methods to reduce reliance on the use of animals in science, which will be published in the summer. He also requested that we double our investment in research to achieve these approaches next year to £20 million across the system in 2024/25.

LD50 testing is not required for preclinical development of novel medicines. Quality control testing of some authorised medicines relies on LD50 testing to ensure each batch meets expected quality standards. UK regulators follow the principles of the 3Rs. Significant progress has been made on validating alternative methods which do not use animals, including the possibility of replacing mice by in vitro suitable cell cultures in LD50-type testing methods, and the relevant regulatory quality standards and testing requirements have been revised accordingly for these specific medicines.

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