Physicians Committee Provides Advice to Government on Strategy to Replace, Reduce, Refine Animal Tests

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Physicians Committee Provides Advice to Government on Strategy to Replace, Reduce, Refine Animal Tests

  May 30, 2017  

 
 

Did you know our federal government has a permanent committee that works to evaluate and promote alternatives to animal testing?

Congress established the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) in 2000 to promote acceptance of alternative safety tests that protect human health and the environment.

Alternative means the approach either refines procedures to lessen animal pain or distress, reduces the number of animals used in a particular test, or replaces animals with tests that don’t use animals, such as cells, tissues, or predictive computer models.

On May 23, ICCVAM held its annual public forum. Representatives from 16 member agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health shared updates on progress and plans.

Elizabeth Baker, Esq., (right) with the NICEATM deputy director, who coordinates ICCVAM, at NIH
Elizabeth Baker, Esq., (right) with the NICEATM deputy director, who coordinates ICCVAM, at NIH

One of the most exciting updates was the National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods’ (NICEATM) presentation of a new national roadmap to modernize chemical and medical product testing by replacing and reducing animal testing. This roadmap is compelling because all of the ICCVAM member agencies agreed on its vision, mission, and goals. The EPA discussed progress it is making on a pilot project to move away from acute toxicity test requirements for pesticide formulations, or final products, and the availability of scientifically valid replacement approaches for assessing skin allergy for global use. Finally, the Department of Defense, the National Center for Advancing Translational Science, and the Food and Drug Administration are conducting a scientific evaluation of tissue/organ chips that would replace animals for pharmaceutical, food safety, and other testing.

The Physicians Committee works with federal agencies and other stakeholders toward the common goal of replacing traditional animal tests with more accurate approaches that are based on human biology. During the presentations, three ICCVAM speakers publicly thanked the Physicians Committee for hosting workshops, providing expert resources, and establishing training opportunities on modern alternative approaches.

The Physicians Committee’s senior science policy specialist, Elizabeth Baker, Esq., provided a comment on ICCVAM-related activities to complement a written comment we submitted in advance of the meeting. In the comment, we commended good work from some member agencies and called upon others to do more to advance alternatives.

The next opportunity for public comment and engagement with ICCVAM is on Sept. 18-19 at the Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods (SACATM) meeting. At this meeting, we will offer advice that supports use of alternative, human-focused approaches to better protect patients, the environment and animals.