Category Archives: Statistics

Ireland publishes 2015 animal statistics showing 228,975 procedures

Ireland has recently published its annual statistics showing the number of animals used for research and testing in 2015. Ireland carried out 228,975 procedures on animals in 2015, 1% more than in 2014.

Procedures on animals in Ireland in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Procedures on animals in Ireland in 2015. Click to Enlarge

A procedure is defined as “any use of an animal for scientific or educational purposes, which may cause the animal a level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by the introduction of a needle in accordance with good veterinary practice.” This definition includes the development and care of any genetically modified animal in which pain or distress may result.

Mice continue to be the most commonly used species at 83%. Together, mice, rats, and fish account for 90% of all animal procedures. No non-human primates, hamsters, or gerbils were used in Ireland in 2015. Dogs and cats accounted for less than 0.33% of all animals used and represent a 27% and 63% decrease in number of procedures for these species, respectively, from 2014. Interestingly, 99% of animals used in Ireland were bred in the European Union (EU).

Animals used in research in ireland iin 2015. Click to Enlarge

Animals used in research in ireland iin 2015. Click to Enlarge

While procedures on pigs, cattle, and other animals rose by 307%, 193%, and 148% respectively, combined, these groups only account for 6.6% of all animal procedures performed in Ireland.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

69% of the total number of animals used was for testing the safety, quality, and potency of medicines – a necessary requirement under EU law for new drugs. The next most common use was for basic research (18%) followed by translational and applied research (10%).

The report showed that 49% of procedures were classified as mild, 22% moderate, 27% severe, and 2% non-recovery. There was a significant reduction in severe procedures in 2015 when compared to 2014. 99% of severe procedures were on mice. Page 17 of the report has definitions for mild, moderate, severe and non-recovery.

HPRA table on Severity of studies in Ireland

Sarah Elkin

Animal Experiments in the UK: Statistics show 4,142,631 procedures in 2015

The UK Home Office has published the 2015 annual statistics showing the number of animal procedures carried out in Great Britain under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986; this covers all vertebrate species (and Cephalopods). In 2015 there were 4.14 million procedures carried out, up 7.1% from 2014 (3.87 million). However, the Home Office have warned that comparisons with 2014 are likely to be problematic as issues with a new counting procedure (introduced in 2014) are only now being ironed out.

[T]hroughout this release, 2015 data are compared with 2013 data, as neither year of data are subject to the same data quality issues as the 2014 data. However, comparisons between 2015 and 2013 should still be exercised with a degree of caution due to the methodological change in 2014.

When compared to 2013, the number of animal procedures rose 0.5% from 4.12 million procedures.

While we often describe these statistics as being for the UK, they do not include Northern Ireland (who carried out 19,857 procedures in 2014), and so are technically the figures for Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

Procedures on animals in Great Britain for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Procedures on animals in Great Britain for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Overall, 96.8% of animals used in scientific studies were mice, rats, fish or birds. Dogs and primates (which are offered special protections under UK law) together accounted for less than 0.2% of the total (similar to in previous years), this becomes 2.01% if cats are included. The statistics also reveal that half of all experiments were the breeding of GM animals which were not used in further experiments – this is almost identical to 2014. Overall, over 67% (two thirds) of all experiments involved genetically modified animals.

Different colours represent changes to the counting method in 1987 and 2014.

Trend over time in animal experiments in the UK. Click to Enlarge.

Using the trend graph we can see how 2014 data appears to be a blip (as confirmed by the Home Office), with animal experiments remaining relatively constant around 4.1 million. While this is higher than in the 1990s, it remains much lower than the 5.5+ million animals used in the mid 1960s.

Procedures on non-human primates rose slightly from 3,246 procedures in 2014, to 3,612 in 2015. The number of procedures on cats fell by 1 to 209 procedures and on dogs rose to 4,643 (but down slightly from the more accurate 2013 figures).

Animal pexperiments in research and testing in Great Britain 2015 by species

A ban on cosmetic testing on animals (1998) and of using great apes (gorillas, orang-utans and chimpanzees) in research (1986) meant both had zero procedures in 2015. It should be noted that some research may continue on great apes in zoos, however such research can be observation-based only as “procedures” on great apes are illegal under ASPA.

For the second time the UK statistics include retrospective reporting of suffering. Rather than just submitting licence proposals to the Home Office that include estimated levels of suffering, the researchers now have to report on what was actually seen (using a variety of measures). Unfortunately the statistics put these in two separate tables (Table 3 and 8). So we have combined them to get severity for all procedures in 2015. We can see most experiments are sub threshold (34%; less than the introduction of a hypodermic needle) or mild (45%), with remainder as moderate (14%), severe (4.5%) or non-recovery (3%; the animal never awakes from anaesthesia). Overall the proportion of moderate and severe fell from 19.2% in 2014 to 18.2 in 2015.

Severity of animal research in the UK in 2015

Severity of animal research in the UK in 2015

Other things to note in the UK statistics:

  • 49.8% of procedures were for the creation and breeding of genetically altered animals (not used in other experiments), 26.6% were for basic research, 13.4% was for regulatory purposes and 9.7% was translational/applied research [Table 1]
  • Over the experimental procedures, two-thirds of the “severe” procedures were regulatory procedures on mice. This is often because death is an endpoint in such procedures [Table 3.1]
  • Over 97% of the animals were born in the UK [Table 2.1]
  • 47.7% of procedures were conducted in universities and medical schools, 25.1% were in commercial organisations (e.g. pharmaceuticals), 12.4% were done at non-profit making organisations (e.g. medical research charities), and 11.8% were done at other public bodies. [Table 11]

Speaking of Research congratulate the UK government on continuing to produce the most comprehensive statistics on animal experiments worldwide. It is also important to note that these statistics are released as a press conference each year where representatives from the scientific community speak about the importance of animals in research.

Speaking of Research

Find more on the stats here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/537708/scientific-procedures-living-animals-2015.pdf

Read last year’s release here: https://speakingofresearch.com/2015/10/22/animal-experiments-in-the-uk-government-releases-2014-statistics/

Animal Research in Israel – 2015 Statistics Released

You may have noticed that Speaking of Research has expanded its list of national animal research statistics to around 30 countries. We would like to thank the RSPCA’s Lab Animal team for supplying us with some of our more recent EU additions. However, our most recent addition is the 2015 statistics for Israel, which showed that the number of animals used in research had declined by 1.6% to 334,767 animals. These numbers can be found on the Israeli Ministry of Health website.

Testing on Animals in Israel for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Testing on Animals in Israel for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

The number of most species declined, except for the use of mice, rabbits and primates. The main fall (49%) was in “Other Animals”, which includes fish, amphibians and reptiles. A 20% fall in the number of rats used, down to under 40,000, also contributed to the overall slight fall in numbers of animals used in research.

Animals used in research in Israel in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Animals used in research in Israel in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Mice are far and away the most commonly used animal in research in Israel (at 76%). Rats, Mice and Birds accounted for around 95% of animals used in research. The 42 primates used accounted for 0.01% of research animals in 2015. Research on animals, particularly primates, has been under pressure in Israel for the past few years. This led to seven Nobel Prize Laureates and the presidents of seven major research universities writing to the Prime Minister, and warning him of the risks to Israeli research posed by the animal rights community there.

Trends in Israeli animal experiments 2004-15. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in Israeli animal experiments 2004-15. Click to Enlarge.

Historical statistics show that the number of animals used each year has been fairly constant over the past 11 years – fluctuating between around 275,000 and 340,000. The slight variations may account for individual projects which used a lot of animals, or from slight changes in science funding over the years.

According to  YNetNews:

45.2% of the experiments were related to advance health and medicine and to prevent suffering. 44.3% were to promote scientific research. 9% were for testing or manufacturing materials or objects, and 1.5% were for education and teaching

The article also provided information on animal suffering, similar to what is included in standard European statistics.

The research procedures were categorized according to a five-level scale determined by the NCAE, which considers the animals’ suffering. According to this scale, 9% of the studies were at the lowest level, 19% were at the second, 30% at the third, 29% at the fourth, and 13% were at the highest level.

We will be keeping an eye on future statistics.

Speaking of Research

Original Data: http://www.health.gov.il/Services/Committee/animax/Documents/multiyearUse_2015.pdf 

Austria publishes 2015 statistics on animal research

Austria has published its statistics that show the number of animals used for research and testing in 2015. Austria carried out 227,317 procedures on animals in 2015, 8.7% more than in 2014.

Procedures on animals in the Austria for research in 2015. Click to Enlarge

The rise in the number of experiments is mainly due to a 7.1% rise in mice. There was a significant rise in the number of rabbits (+95%) and other rodents (+58%) used. There were also small rises in dogs (up 68% to 111 procedures) and cats (up 5 procedures to 34).

Animal Experiments in Austria in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in Austria in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Mice continue to be the most commonly used species at 82%. Mice, rats and fish account for 89% of all animal procedures, rising to 96% if you include rabbits. It is interesting that Austria, rabbits are the second most common species, a fact not seen anywhere else in Europe, though neighbouring Germany also has a relatively high number (3.8% of total). The statistics show that most of these rabbits (93%) were involved in pyrogenicity studies (looking at fever response). No primates were used in Austria in 2015 (or 2014) and dogs and cats accounted for less than 0.07% of all animals used despite the rises in number of procedures for these species.

Animals used in research in Austria in 2015. Click to Enlarge

Animals used in research in Austria in 2015. Click to Enlarge

This year was the second year where there was retrospective assessment and reporting of severity (i.e. reporting how much an animal actually suffered rather than how much it was predicted to suffer prior to the study). Reassuringly the proportions in each severity banding was similar to 2014, suggesting the system has been well understood. The report showed that 60% of procedures were classed as mild, 24% as moderate, 12% as severe, and 4% as non-recovery, where an animal is anaesthetised for surgery, and then not woken up afterwards.

From historical statistics we can see that while there has been an overall decline of almost 50% since 1990, the numbers have been edging upwards since their nadir in 1999. These numbers tend to reflect changing science funding environments within the country.

Trends in Austrian animal experiments 1990-15. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in Austrian animal experiments 1990-15. Click to Enlarge.

Some animal rights groups have criticised the rise in numbers, noting that it is the highest number since 1994. This is cherry picking – the numbers have been relatively stable since 1994, and are far lower than the 450,000+ animals being used in 1990 and 1991.

Austria is one of the first countries to publish its 2015 annual statistics, and we will be looking out for the statistics of other European countries. See our summary of statistics to compare countries.

Italy finally publishes 2013 statistics

While we will be posting Austria’s 2015 statistics on Monday, Italian authorities seem a little bit behind the times having only recently published their 2013 statistics for the use of animals in research. Italy carried out 723,739 procedures on animals in 2013, 5.9% less than in 2012.

Procedures on animals in the Italy for research in 2013. Click to Enlarge

The fall in the number of experiments is mainly due to a large (30%) fall in the number of fish, and a moderate drop in rats (9%) and mice (3.5%). There was also a small fall in dogs (down 45% to 300 procedures) and a rise in the number of primates experiments (up 41% to 475).

Animal Experiments in Italy in 2013. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in Italy in 2013. Click to Enlarge

Rodents accounted for over 90% of all animals used in Italy in 2013 (mainly mice at 67.5% of the total). This rises to almost 98% when you include fish and birds. Primates and dogs together accounted for 0.1% of all research animals. No cats were used in 2013 (0r 2012).

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Italy’s 2013 statistics do not include measures of animal suffering – though this should come into the 2014 statistics (which most European countries have already published). What we can see (Table 2) is that most of the animal use (54%) was  basic research, followed by applied human studies (17%) and safety testing of human medicine and dentistry products (14%).

From historical statistics we can see a steady decline of over 25% since 2007. These numbers tend to reflect changing science funding environments within the country.

Trends in Italian animal experiments 2007-13. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in Italian animal experiments 2007-13. Click to Enlarge.

On Monday we should be publishing our 2015 Austrian statistics, and we will publish other country data as we get it. See our summary of statistics to compare countries, and please send us any data you find that we are lacking.

USDA publishes 2015 Animal Research Statistics

Congratulations to the USDA/APHIS for getting ahead of the curve for a second time and making the US the first country to publish its 2015 animal research statistics. Overall, the number of animals (covered by the Animal Welfare Act) used in research fell 8% from 834,453 (2014) to 767,622 (2015).

These statistics do not include all animals as most mice, rats, and fish are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act – though they are still covered by other regulations that protect animal welfare. We also have not included the 136,525 animals which were kept in research facilities in 2015 but were not involved in any research studies.

USDA Statistics_2016_A

The statistics show that 53% of research is on guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits, while 11% is on dogs or cats and 8% on non-human primates. In the UK, where mice, rats, fish and birds are counted in the annual statistics, over 97% of research is on rodents, birds and fish. Across the EU, which measures animal use slightly differently, 93% of research is on species not counted under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). If similar proportions were applied the US, the total number of vertebrates used in research in the US would be between 11 and 25 million, however there are no statistics to confirm this.

USDA Statistics_2016_B

If we look at the changes between the 2014 and 2015 statistics we can see a drop in the number of studies in hamsters, rabbits, cats and the “all other animals” category. Notably, there was a 7.3% rise in the number of non-human primates used although this comes the year after a 9.9% fall in their numbers.

USDA Statistics_2016_C

There has been a downward trend in the number of AWA-covered animals used in the last three decades, with a 64% drop in numbers between 1985 and 2015. It is also likely that, similar to the UK, a move towards using more genetically altered mice and fish has reduced the numbers of other AWA-covered species of animals used. In the UK this change in the species of animals studied has contributed to an overall increase in the numbers of animals used in research in the past 15 years.

Rises and falls in the number of animals used reflects many factors including the level of biomedical activity in a country, trending areas of research, changes to legislations at home and abroad, outsourcing research to and from other countries, and new technologies (which may either replace animal studies or create reasons for new animal experiments).

It is important to note that the number of animals cannot be tallied across years to get an accurate measure of total number of animals. This is because animals in longitudinal studies are counted each year. Thus, if the same 10 animals are in a research facility for 10 years, they would appear in the stats of each year – adding these numbers would incorrectly create the illusion of 100 animals being used.

Speaking of Research welcomes the open publication of these animal research statistics as offering the public a clear idea of what animal research goes on in their country.

Belgium and Poland release latest animal research statistics

Editor’s Note: Poland made errors by including observations of fish larvae in their annual statistics. This accounted for over 400,000 fish being erroneously being added to the first publication of the statistics. We have now received the corrected version and the article below has been corrected. (May 4th 2016)

In the last two months we have seen statical releases on animal research by Northern Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. We now have the latest releases from both Belgium and Poland.

Animal Research in Belgium

Belgium’s three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) independently publish the statistics for their region. We have collated the results[1][2][3] into a single table covering all of Belgium.

Procedures on animals in the Belgium for research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Procedures on animals in the Belgium for research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

There were 664,472 procedures on animals in 2014. This was 6% higher than in 2013. However, overall the number of animals has fallen over the past 15 years. Wallonia and Flanders, the large regions that make up most of Belgium, unsurprisingly accounted for the most animal procedures.

Trends in Belgium animal experiments 1997-2014. Click to Enlarge.

Trends in Belgium animal experiments 1997-2014. Click to Enlarge.

Similar to other European countries, over 85% of procedures were carried out on mice, rats and fish. However, the 10% of procedures conducted on rabbits and guinea pigs represents a larger proportion than found in most other European countries.

Animal Experiments in Belgium in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Animal Experiments in Belgium in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Animal Research in Poland

Poland produced exceptionally detailed statistics for 2013, similar statistics can now be found for 2014.

Numbers of animal procedures in Poland - Animal Testing 2014 REVISED

Procedures on animals in the Poland for research in 2014. Click to Enlarge

The number of procedures conducted on animals in Poland rose steeply in 2014 by almost 45%, from 162,156 to 233,323 procedures. Much of this is down to a large rise in the number of rats used.

Animal Research by Species in Poland Pie Chart 2014 REVISED

Animal Experiments in Poland in 2014. Click to Enlarge

Dogs, cats and primates account for less than 0.2% of procedures, while mice, rats, birds and fish together account for approximately 89%.

Compare these figures to other countries here.

Speaking of Research seek to be the best source of information on the internet on animal research and testing statistics. Unfortunately language barriers mean that we often find it hard to get statistics from non-English speaking countries. If you speak multiple languages and are able to help us out finding the statistics from other countries we would be very grateful. Statistics for Belgium and Poland were both provided by helpful supporters. See more about how to help here.

[1] Flanders animal research statistics 2014 – http://www.lne.be/themas/dierenwelzijn/statistische-gegevens-over-het-gebruik-van-proefdieren
[2] Brussels animal research statistics 2014 – http://document.environnement.brussels/opac_css/elecfile/IF_Statistiques_Bien-etre_animal_NL
[3] Wallonia animal research statistics 2014 – http://environnement.wallonie.be/bea/ANIMAUX-EXPERIENCES-WALLONIE-2014.pdf
[4] Historical Data for Belgium, page 2 – http://www.bclas.be/sites/default/files/SID_NL%20spreads.pdf
[5] Poland animal research statistics 2013 – https://www.nauka.gov.pl/g2/oryginal/2014_09/434ab27be634574eb76dd03c4dd0e52d.pdf
[6] Poland animal research statistics 2014 – http://www.bip.nauka.gov.pl/sprawozdania_zwierzeta/sprawozdanie-rok-2014.html