The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced a joint effort to use high-throughput roboticsâ€”instead of animalsâ€”to test 10,000 chemicals and drugs for potential toxicity. Iâ€™ve asked PCRMâ€™s Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., to provide details:
Current testing is largely based on experiments on animalsâ€”rodents, rabbits, dogsâ€”and uses methods that are cruel, time-consuming, expensive, and in some cases use thousands of animals in a single test. For example, a reproductive toxicity study uses 2,600 animals and requires a minimum of two years at a cost of $380,000. PCRM toxicologists and government affairs staff have pushed government and industry scientists to implement nonanimal methods.
The new method was developed after the National Research Council issued a mandate (often referred to as Tox21) several years ago to replace antiquated animal-based (in vivo) toxicity testing with testing using mostly human cells and tissues. At PCRMâ€™s toxicology department, we are convinced this will offer not only a dramatic reduction in animal use, but also a faster and cheaper approach to safety testing.
While Congress has been drafting revisions to the law that regulates chemicals (known as the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA), weâ€™ve met with congressional offices to make sure that new nonanimal methods are required as they become more widely available. Weâ€™ve successfully gained support for these important changes, so animal testing will be greatly reducedâ€”and eventually eliminatedâ€”when the bill is passed.
To learn more about how replacing animals in toxicity testing with this technology will make the world a safer place for peopleâ€”and for the millions of animals now used in these cruel testsâ€”visit www.ReformToxicityTesting.org.
(Dr. Barnard is the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.)