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Possibilities for refinement and reduction: future improvements within regulatory testing.

Stephens, M.L., Conlee, K., Alvino, G. and Rowan, A.N.

Ilar Journal, 43(Suppl.), S74-S79 (2002).

Approaches and challenges to refining and reducing animal use in regulatory testing are reviewed. Regulatory testing accounts for the majority of animals reported in the most painful and/or distressful categories in the United States and Canada. Refinements in testing, including the use of humane endpoints, are of increasing concern. Traditional approaches to reduction (e.g., improving experimental design) are being supplemented with complementary approaches, such as the use of tier testing to eliminate some chemicals prior to in vivo testing. Technological advances in telemetry and noninvasive techniques will help decrease either the demand for animals in testing or animal suffering. Further decreases in animal use will stem from international harmonization and coordination of testing programs. Progress in refinement and reduction faces a variety of broad challenges, including limited funding for research. In the specific area of refinement, a key challenge is the issue of distress (as distinct from pain). In the area of reduction, the practice of using unjustifiably high numbers of animals from small species (e.g., rodents) should be challenged. One case study of the use of carbon dioxide as a euthanasia agent illustrates the need for further analysis and research. Notwithstanding the complexities and challenges, the potential for refinement and reduction in regulatory testing is encouraging.