Animal Use in the Chemical and Product Manufacturing Sectors — Can the Downtrend Continue?
During the 1990s and early 2000s, a number of manufacturing companies in the cosmetic, personal care and household product industries were able to substantially reduce their use of animals for testing (or to not use animals in the first place). These reductions were almost always the result of significant financial contributions to either direct, in-house alternatives research, or to support personnel whose duties were to understand and apply the current state-of-the-art for in vitro testing. They occurred almost exclusively in non-regulatory areas, and primarily involved acute topical toxicities. Over the last few years, the reduction in animal use has been much less dramatic, because some companies are still reluctant to change from the traditional animal studies, because systemic, repeat-dose toxicity is more difficult to model in vitro, and because many products still require animal testing for regulatory approval. Encouragingly, we are now observing an increased acceptance of non-animal methods by regulatory agencies. This is due to mounting scientific evidence from larger databases, agreement by companies to share data and testing strategies with regulatory agencies, and a focus on smaller domains of applicability. These changes, along with new emphasis and financial support for addressing systemic toxicities, promise to provide additional possibilities for industry to replace animals with in vitro methods, alone or in combination with in silico methods. However, the largest advance will not occur until more companies commit to using the non-animal test strategies that are currently available.