The BUAV has welcomed a commitment by the Home Office relating to the testing of botulinum toxin (commonly known as botox). The new approach has been promised as a result of the BUAV’s investigation into the animal testing of Dysport (a type of botox) at the UK contract facility, Wickham Laboratories, and subsequent Judicial Review proceedings.
Wickham Laboratories is allowed to test Dysport on mice, using the archaic poisoning test LD50 (Lethal Dose 50), one of the cruellest and most controversial of all animal tests, but only where the intended use is for genuine medical purposes. It is not allowed to test the botox for cosmetics use because the Government banned animal testing for cosmetics in 1997. However, most botox is used off-label for cosmetics and is available at numerous beauty clinics in the UK. Dysport is made by Ipsen Ltd in Wrexham.
The Home Office initially strongly denied that it had any responsibility to ensure the botox is not actually used for cosmetics. However, in a judicial review brought by the BUAV the Home Secretary, Theresa May, recently conceded that she does have the responsibility to make sure that the end use of the botox is not for cosmetic purposes.
Wickham Laboratories is supposed to kill the mice as soon as it becomes obvious that they will die – to save them from at least some suffering – but a Home Office investigation (initiated following the BUAV’s own investigation) found that 80-100% of mice in the relevant groups were in fact dying from the botox, paralysed and suffocating. The investigation found that Wickham was in breach of this and other licence conditions. Up to 70,000 mice a year could be used to test botox at Wickham.
Michelle Thew, BUAV Chief Executive said: ‘‘It is shocking that despite a UK and EU ban on the use of animals in cosmetics testing, every year thousands of mice have continued to be subjected to shocking poisoning tests to satisfy the craze of using botox for cosmetic purposes. We are pleased to have finally closed the loophole in the UK that has allowed this cruelty to happen. We are now pressing the Home Secretary to clarify exactly how she intends to enforce this.”
The BUAV’s campaign to end cruel animal tests for botox has been supported by a number of high profile celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley, Joss Stone, Annette Crosbie OBE, Chrissie Hynde and The Office star Lucy Davis.