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  1. Good Science Digest

  2. Jul 10, 2024

The Physicians Committee Works Toward Global Acceptance of Nonanimal Chemical Testing

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Photo: Getty Images

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) works to harmonize international regulations on chemical testing.

By a process called Mutual Acceptance of Data, member countries are bound by legal contract to accept the methods endorsed by the OECD. Engaging in the OECD acceptance process offers an opportunity to save animal lives by preventing repetitive animal tests conducted in different countries, as well as saving governments and industry about 309 million Euros every year.

Members of the International Council on Animal Protection in OECD Programs (ICAPO) work hard to facilitate the acceptance of nonanimal methods by proposing and (co)leading projects, or by participation in expert group discussions, research, document drafting, and review. The Physicians Committee’s Dr. Eryn Slankster-Schmierer represented ICAPO’s important work at the annual meeting of the Test Guideline Programme in April 2024. During this meeting, the Test Guideline Programme makes the decision to adopt new projects and pass new test guidelines. ICAPO facilitates new nonanimal projects and guidelines through the program.

This year, the Test Guideline Programme adopted a record-breaking number of new projects to the 2024 Workplan. Many of these projects aim to integrate new nonanimal methods into the test guideline program, ranging from skin sensitization and immune dysfunction to assessing liver toxicity using liver organoids and more. These are all projects the Test Guideline Programme has committed its time and resources to that have the potential to replace or reduce animal use.

In addition, several improvements to eye and skin guidelines were made that now mean more chemical types can be tested in nonanimal methods, replacing animal use on a larger scale.

Two guidance documents for eye irritation and light sensitivity were also approved. These documents provide helpful blueprints on nonanimal chemical testing for these endpoints. Last year, the OECD called for funding in order to hire experts necessary to update a guidance document on eye irritation to include new nonanimal methods that were adopted since its previous update in 2019. The Physicians Committee recognized the importance of this update to replace animal testing that otherwise involves restraining rabbits and forcing chemicals into their eyes. In the absence of financial support from member countries, the Physicians Committee provided much of the necessary funding, which ultimately led to the adoption of the updated guidance document, which will no doubt save many animals.

As the Secretariat to ICAPO, and active members of many committees and expert groups, the Physicians Committee will continue to make important, global impact, until all OECD test guidelines are animal-free.

Find more information about these outcomes and other in vitro test guidelines at

By Eryn Slankster-Schmierer, PhD, ICAPO Secretariat

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