Momentum Grows for Nonanimal Product Testing
This alternative to the Draize test uses
cultured human eye cells derived from cadaver corneas.
It’s been more than 20 years since animal protection groups started pushing for an end to the use of animals in product testing. As a result, some personal care products now on the market are not tested on animals, but use previously tested ingredients instead.
Yet the infamous Draize test, in which researchers dose the eyes of rabbits with corrosive chemicals and record resulting injuries for 21 days, is still widely used. PCRM scientist Sherry Ward, Ph.D., is playing an important role in recent initiatives to stop this practice once and for all.
In May, Dr. Ward served on two scientific panels that explored replacing the Draize test with non-animal methods. The panels were part of a symposium organized by the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods. Composed of representatives from 15 U.S. government agencies, this committee was established by Congress in 1997 to evaluate new toxicological test methods and make recommendations on their use.
The current momentum to replace the rabbit eye test is largely due to European legislation that will ban the sale of any cosmetic products (and their ingredients) that have undergone Draize testing. The policy is scheduled to take effect in the European Union by 2009.
An expert in in vitro (test tube) technology, Dr. Ward worked at the Gillette Company for most of the 1990s, developing human cell models to replace the Draize test. She is the associate director of research and toxicology at PCRM.