NIH Plans to Replace Animal Testing with Ethical Modern Methods

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently announced plans to remove animals from the drug and chemical toxicity testing process, an outdated practice not only harmful and fatal to animals, but the findings are often irrelevant to human health.

Scientists at the non-profit health organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) assisted this change by shaping the new NIH roadmap to tailor toxicity testing with relevant methods that better protect human health.

“The National Institutes of Health’s new Roadmap provides a direct route to better protect millions of human and animal lives,” The vice president of the Physicians Committee’s research policy, Kristie Sullivan, M.P.H, said in a statement. “It will help replace animal tests, which can fail to predict if a drug or chemical is harmful, with organs-on-chips and other human-relevant methods.”

According to PCRM, the plan, entitled “A Strategic Roadmap for Establishing New Approaches to Evaluate the Safety of Chemicals and Medical Products in the United States,” was developed by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM). ICCVAM has representatives from 16 federal agencies who facilitate the development of toxicological testing methods that reduce and replace the use of animals.

In May 2017, PCRM’s senior science policy specialist, Elizabeth Baker, Esq., was present at ICCVAM’s yearly public forum. There she gave her input on the new, live animal-free roadmap, also submitted in writing prior to the annual meeting.

Instead of living animals, this latest Roadmap is designed as a guide to applying new technology including high-throughput screening, computational models, and tissue chips when testing the toxicity of chemical and medical products. The Roadmap also works as a framework for agencies to team up, fund and co-develop new testing methods devoid of animals, change animal testing regulations, and become a modern presence in the science field.

Sullivan adds PCRM is “pleased” to see federal agencies uniting to work towards a common goal of making animal-free testing normal.