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The European Coalition to Animal Experiments (ECEAE) has today welcomed the EU withdrawal of its requirement for some animal tests for veterinary medicines.
These tests are called ‘target animal batch safety tests’ and were required for some types of veterinary drugs to make sure that each batch of the drug is not contaminated. The test had to be done on the animal for which the product is designed, meaning tests on dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep and pigs. Not only does this kind of repeat testing consume hundreds of animals depending on the frequency of batches (2 mammals, 10 fish or 10 birds each test) but the volumes of the vaccine that are injected can be too large and cause pain(1).
However, from the 1st of April 2013 companies manufacturing products for which there is already safety data available no longer need to keep repeating the test, thereby saving thousands of animals across Europe (2). Last year the ‘rulebook’ in veterinary medicine safety - the European Pharmacopeia - was updated to remove the test for most drugs. It comes into force on 1St April 2013.
Last December we reported that the UK authority, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (the VMD), had already written to all UK drug companies telling them to update their licences to remove the test by the 1st April (3). An investigation by ECEAE UK member group, the BUAV, at Wickham Laboratories in 2009 had highlighted to the authorities the need to inform companies of changes to testing requirements. We had found several instances of other types of animal tests being conducted when the European Pharmacopeia no longer required them (3).
Sadly, there have been moves to delete the ‘target animal batch safety tests’ from regulatory requirements in the EU since at least 1996, and it is only now, some 17 years later that it has finally happened (4). The ECEAE will now be following up with other EU countries to make sure the new rules are implemented and will encourage non-EU countries to follow suit until this test is finally removed around the world.
1. Batch safety testing of veterinary vaccines-potential welfare implications of injection volumes. ATLA 36 (2008):685-694.
2. Removal of the Target Animal Batch Safety Test (TABST). VMD Mavis Press Release 5th December 2012
3. These were pyrogenicity tests on rabbits and abnormal toxicity tests on mice. See BUAV website for more details.