A European assessment of drug research practices published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology has found that acute toxicity tests on animals are unnecessary. In Europe, slightly fewer than 500,000 rats and mice are used annually for toxicity testing. The report estimates that approximately 15,000 animals a year could be spared if the acute toxicity test were dropped from regulations. The single-dose toxicity test has been traditionally used for determining the quantity of a drug that causes a major toxic reaction. The study found these tests unnecessary before human testing begins, citing research from 18 drug firms—including AstraZeneca, Novartis AG and Sanofi-Aventis SA—and the UK’s National Center for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs). The companies involved in the study have decreased their use of animals for acute toxicity tests by more than 70%. The NC3Rs has stated that the next step will to change the official regulations.

Source: Reuters

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