Client Question: How do we fully comply with regulatory requirements while navigating shareholder concerns Regarding Animal tests?
We hear from clients regularly who are concerned about fulfilling regulatory requirements while also remaining transparent enough to quell the shareholder concerns related to animal testing. We have found that our 3Rs Certification satisfies both our clients as well as their shareholders. Our approach is multipronged:
When we first begin to work towards 3Rs Certification with a client, we typically analyze the regulatory testing currently being performed. Oftentimes endpoints can be combined and/or animal numbers can be reduced. We also ensure that each test being performed is required by regulators, either regionally or internationally -- we have found that there are extra tests being performed simply due to regulators being slow to answer questions or not answering questions clearly. RCB is uniquely situated so that queries to regulatoros are answered promptly. This benefit saves clients time and money and ensures that safety/efficacy testing can go forward efficiently.
We also focus on R&D as a means to streamline, reduce waste, and apply efficient, cost-effective assays that are easy to implement. This depends greatly on the product being developed, but we work in multiple sectors and are able to increase R&D efficiency when our clients request this help.
In terms of operating in line with the 3Rs (replacement, refinement, and reduction of animal testing), we also help with various refinements. These techniques allow for euthanasia when objective signs that the animal is moribund and/or beginning to suffer are present. These objective signs are accepted by regulatory agencies and are often encouraged. There are additional refinements that alleviate suffering during euthanasia.
An extremely helpful aspect of our 3Rs work has been to look at the species-specific enrichment available to each animal. These measures are inexpensive and prevent anxious and self-destructive behaviour in animals in enclosures and/or cages. The list of potential measures is long, but we curate the most efficacious and cost-effective choices for each company/lab we work with and take the guesswork out of the equation. We have matched enrichment help with basically any budget and any species.
Our Results: Results seen by each company directly correlates with individual corporate culture and its focus on both saving money by employing less expensive assays in combination with its focus on animal welfare. Some highlights have included: a 60% decrease in animal use at a Fortune 100 company; implementation of fast, more humane euthanasia for rodents at a different Fortune 100 company; the use of simple, free cardboard tubing at both small and large companies; the use of music for specific species; and the cohousing of rabbits -- making them happier and less stressed. The list of simple enrichments goes on, but the effects are always the same -- reliability increases, assays do not need as many replications due to better data, and animals are healthier due to lower stress, etc. Not only are these results good for the animals affected, they also improve experiment reliability and repeatability (this has been studied at length in peer-reviewed literature), making 3Rs measures both good science and admirable corporate ethics.