The BUAV has welcomed the announcement of further progress to reduce animal testing by the UK authority, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), following the publication of a report that reviews the use of animals in the testing of veterinary vaccines.
Currently most veterinary vaccines are required to be tested as they are produced to ensure they are safe and work. Some of the tests are animal tests and, depending on batch size and numbers of batches released to the market, high numbers of animals can be used. Not necessarily the species the vaccine is aimed at are used, e.g. mice are mainly used to test clostridial (tetanus) vaccines that are used for a range of species.
The report, which reviewed veterinary products released to the EU market via the UK between 2007 and 2012, showed that there was an 18% decrease in the number of animals used over the six-year period. By 2012, in total 45,776 animals were used in veterinary vaccine batch tests.
Steady decreases in the numbers of cattle, sheep, dogs and hamsters used in vaccine testing were reported as well as a 35% decrease (from 2010 to 2012) in the total number of animals used for a single batch test. The report also found that there has been a steady move towards the use of more humane methods of vaccine testing (known as serological testing) where animals no longer have to be infected with diseases to ensure that a vaccine works.
The VMD reported that a further decrease is expected over the next few years due to the deletion of the ‘target animal batch safety test’ in April 2013. It is estimated that the removal of this test will result in a further reduction of 5,000 animals used in vaccine testing every year. The report highlights several key areas where improvements still need to be made, particularly in the testing of clostridial vaccines, which accounts for 43% of the total animals used.
The BUAV is pleased to see the progress that has been made but is concerned that the reductions in animal use are not as significant as they could be. The BUAV will be following up on the report and asking the VMD to immediately ensure that no manufacturer continues to use an animal test that has been replaced.
1. Animal usage in quality control tests for the batch release of Immunological Veterinary Medicinal Products (IVMPs) via the UK from 2007 to 2012. (May 2014). VMD: http://www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/pdf/Imm_Control_Tests.pdf