China Makes ‘Groundbreaking’ Shift From Cosmetic Animal Testing

China is making a groundbreaking shift away from cosmetic animal testing with the approval of two new non-animal methods.

The two new tests include the direct peptide reaction assay for skin sensitization and the short time exposure assay for eye irritation.

The move toward cruelty-free testing alternatives is the result of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a nonprofit research and testing lab dedicated to the development of animal-free testing methods, and China’s National Medical Products Association (NMPA) in 2017.

The IIVS worked closely with the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control (NIFDC) a branch of the NMPA, over the past couple of years to help modernize China’s cosmetic animal testing policies.

“We have seen first-hand how the partnership with NIFDC and our training program have built capacity and proficiency in alternatives,” said Erin Hill, President of IIVS, in a statement.

China will adopt two new animal-free cosmetic animal testing methods

Cosmetic Animal Testing in China

Cosmetic animal testing has been mandatory in China, but recent advancements in technology and consumer awareness of the cruel reality of the practice are pushing the nation toward cruelty-free methods.

Last October, the NIFDC announced it was seeking “viable” alternatives to cosmetic animal testing, calling it a top priority. The Gansu Province National Medical Products Association announced last month that it would end cosmetic animal testing for all finished products, foreign and domestic.

The collaboration between IIVS and the NMPA, meanwhile, seeks to make animal testing for ingredients obsolete. Hands-on-training in cruelty-free alternatives is a part of the relationship between the two organizations. The program has trained more than a hundred scientists in animal-free testing methods so far, including the newly approved tests and NRU 3T3 Phototoxicity, the first approved non-animal test method.

“The opening of the alternatives laboratory at the Zhejiang Institute for Food and Drug Control (ZJIFDC) is a wonderful example of how laboratories can expand to offer training and testing services in alternative test methods,” Hill continued.

The new non-animal tests will go into effect and be the preferred method going forward starting January 2020.