Thank you for contacting me about animal testing and the facility at Grimston. I appreciate your concerns regarding this issue. I am, as many know, a dog owner myself and keen to see improvements in animal welfare wherever possible.
I am pleased that the Government has outlined how it will work to reduce, replace and refine the use of animals in research – known as ‘the 3Rs’. It has launched a delivery plan, which is part of a Government commitment to create a science-led approach to reduce the use of animals in the biosciences. The UK’s National Centre for the 3Rs has been leading the way in this area, and has already invested over £35 million to support this work. As a result, trials into cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, as well as toxicity testing, have all seen reductions in animal use.
Animal research still plays a small but important role in providing vital safety information for potential new medicines. It is worth remembering that, as a result of findings from animal studies, a large number of potential new drugs never get as far as being tested in humans. Some aspects of the toxicological assessment of new medicines cannot be adequately assessed in humans, and animal data will be the only kind available.
Without animal testing it is highly likely that a large number of potentially dangerous new medicines would be tested in healthy volunteers and patients in clinical trials, and Ministers believe that this would be quite unacceptable. However, animals are only used when there are no suitable alternatives, and by encouraging new cutting-edge approaches to science we will ensure that standards of animal welfare are improved.
With regards to the facility at Grimston, Home Office officials advised B&K Universal Ltd of the requirements for the facility of European Directive 2010/63/EU, which was implemented in the UK and other member states on 1 January 2013, a directive which is based firmly in ‘the 3Rs’ as outlined above. It lays down minimum standards for housing and care, regulates the use of animals through a systematic project evaluation requiring inter alia assessment of pain, suffering distress and lasting harm caused to the animals. It requires regular risk-based inspections and improves transparency through measures such as publication of non-technical project summaries and retrospective assessment.
Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch.