ECHA has today published a unique report on the use of alternatives to testing chemicals on vertebrate animals. This report is a legal requirement of the EU REACH Regulation of Chemicals
The full 69 page report entitled "The use of alternatives to testing on animals for the REACH Regulation 2001" is available at http://echa.europa.eu/doc/117reports/alternatives_test_animals_2011_en.pdf
A 4 page "Report Summary 2011" is available athttp://echa.europa.eu/doc/117reports/summary/alternatives_test_animals_2011_summary_en.pdf
The report is the first provided by ECHA on the use of alternatives to testing on animals since REACH came into effect. Approximately 25 000 registration dossiers submitted from 1 June 2008 until 28 February 2011 were analysed to get an overall picture of the use of animal studies and non-animal methods used. An additional source of information was the ongoing dossier evaluation work, where selected dossiers undergo a compliance check and proposals to conduct tests are examined.
Data sharing is the key mechanism used to avoid unnecessary animal testing and the analysis of the registration data for this report shows that registrants made extensive use of it. Registrants also made full use of the options available in REACH to use alternatives to testing on vertebrate animals. This includes, for example, using existing studies or applying non-test methods to predict properties of substances instead of experimental testing. The report shows that so far very few new animal studies were conducted for the purpose of registering phase-in substances.
However, the more in-depth compliance checks undertaken so far suggest that quite often the justifications provided by registrants for the use of alternative methods fall short of the requirements in REACH. Therefore, ECHA is urging the companies to proactively improve the quality of their dossiers, and especially of the justifications for waiving testing. However, ECHA currently expects that it will have to also request registrants to carry out some new animal tests to ensure the safe use of chemical substances.