Welcome to the first in a series of posts where we look at the statements that companies, universities and charities have regarding animal research. Each statement will be given a star rating out of 4 (where 4 is the best) according to the following system:
- = statement does not exist or I could not find it
- = it was difficult to find, either I needed to use the search tool or it was buried several layers deep in the website
- = easy to find statement that is just one or two layers deep into the website.
- = statement does not exist or it is very poor (e.g. “we do animal research because it is the law to ensure drug safety”)
- = an average statement which might explain why the company uses animals, but not why they are important in general
- = a good statement which explains the role of animal research in medical developments, preferably with accompanying material about animal research.
I will look at the five largest pharmaceutical companies in the world (by revenue).
Johnson and Johnson
Our Company -> Our Citizenship -> Ethical Research & Development -> Policy on the Humane Care & Use of Laboratory Research Animals
It is the policy of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to use animals in laboratory
research to the minimum extent necessary to assess the safety and efficacy of our products for use in humans and animals. Consistent with this policy, Johnson & Johnson laboratory research animal care and use programs and facilities meet or exceed inspection agencies standards; all animals are treated humanely and cared for in accordance with the local regulations governing humane care and use of animals in research including the Animal Welfare Act (7 USC 2131), the National Research Council Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the EU Commission, and the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Although in vitro systems have contributed to reducing animal use, they cannot at this time
obviate the need for animal studies. Testing in animals is required to understand the complex interactions between the body’s organ systems and the physiological and pathological consequences of exposure to drugs, chemicals, vaccines and medical devices. The use of animals, therefore, remains an essential element in the conduct of biomedical research and development.
– Difficult to find (I had to use the search bar) this position statement, but it is well written and goes on to discuss the ethical framework under which research is done. Would be useful if they explain the importance of animal research to medical progress as a whole.
Research & Development -> Conducting Research & Clinical Trials -> Policies, Positions and Case Studies -> Pfizer Guidelines and Policy on Laboratory Animal Care
Pfizer is dedicated to helping people and animals live longer, healthier lives through the discovery and development of breakthrough medicines and therapies. Animal-based biomedical research in the pharmaceutical industry remains a vital component of the discovery, evaluation and regulatory processes, which lead to the development of products that save or improve human and animal lives throughout the world.
Pfizer’s Animal Care and Use policy reflects our absolute commitment that animals used in research are treated humanely. This means that any research involving animals is conducted only after appropriate ethical consideration and review. This review ensures that we provide a high level of care to experimental animals, and that there is no scientifically appropriate and validated alternative to the use of animals that is acceptable to regulators, where relevant.
- Difficult to find, I had to use the search bar to work out where it was – this was made more difficult as “animal research” was not in the title. The statement is ok, but lacks any information about the importance of animal research, or any extra material on animals in biomedical research.
Corporate Responsibility -> R&D -> Animal Welfare -> Animal Research
Roche’s Mission. As an innovation-driven global healthcare leader, Roche aims to improve the quality of human life by providing products and services for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Roche’s goal is to help alleviate human suffering caused by diseases.
Responsibility and Standards. At this time, the use of animals in basic research and in them development of drugs and technologies is an indispensable part of biomedical research, both for scientific and legal reasons. In particular, like all healthcare companies, Roche is required by regulatory authorities to test the safety and efficacy of new drugs in animals, before they may be introduced to humans.
Therefore, Roche is committed to using animals appropriately and responsibly, and complies with international, regional and national laws and regulations, as well as meeting or exceeding industry standards (for further information see “Animal Research – Principles of Care and Use”). All employees within Roche, and all external contractors who perform animal research for Roche, are required to obey these laws at all times and to conduct their research by applying high standards of welfare and respect for the animals in their care.
- The position statement wasn’t the easiest thing to find, but could be worked out through the links. The statement itself could be a little stronger, but given the extra materials that Roche have. such ast heir FAQ about animal research, which provides answers to many typical questions people have about this issue, I gave them both stars for the content. Furthermore, the page from which the position statement can be downloaded has a video which talks about the importance of animal research (we well as other, complementary, methods).
Research & Development -> Our use of animals
Many diseases that cause suffering or death – including HIV/AIDS, cancer, malaria, and Alzheimer’s – are in need of new, more effective treatments. At GSK, our aim is to discover and develop medicines and vaccines that can help alleviate the pain and distress caused by such diseases.
At present, this goal would be unattainable if animal research were not an option. Animal studies remain a small but vital part of our research, as they are the only method that can show the effects of a potential new medicine in a living body before it is used in humans. Furthermore, animal research can provide vital information about the causes of diseases and how they may develop.
Corporate Responsibility -> Responsible Business Practises -> Responsible R&D -> Animal Research
Animal research comprises an essential part of modern drug and medical therapy research and development. Despite encouraging methods for computer and cell-based culture research there are still many areas where better understanding of disease mechanisms cannot be achieved without the use of animals. The knowledge acquired through such procedures is essential for the development of innovative treatments for unmet medical need.
Novartis supports the use of animal procedures in our medical and biological research, where such procedures are scientifically necessary and alternative approaches are inappropriate.
- This was fairly easy to find (or I’m getting better at looking for them), but was too deep in the website for both marks. The statement itself is probably the best statement of the five, and goes onto include information about animal welfare, and even a statement condemning the use of violence.
Overall, we are glad for the fact that all five firms did have a statement – some easier to find than others – and generally what was said was positive. Novartis, GSK and Roche provided the best information on animal research, with Novartis getting our first prize for the statement itself. Nonetheless, the overall winner is GSK, who’s easy to find, effective statement should be taken as a model for other companies.