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ECHA’s New Report Reveals Popularity of Alternatives to Animal Testing

Published on 2017-06-19. Author : SpecialChem

HELSINKI -- ECHA has published its third report on the use of alternative methods under REACH that shows that most registrants consider and use alternatives to animal testing.

ECHA’s New Report Reveals Popularity of Alternatives to Animal Testing
ECHA’s New Report Reveals Popularity of Alternatives
to Animal Testing

Alternatives to Animal Testing


One effective way is data sharing: 98 % of the substances are registered jointly. Registrants also make extensive use of existing information and alternative methods before conducting new studies.

  • The analysis is based on joint and individual registration dossiers submitted to ECHA between 2008 and 2016 for 6290 substances. 
  • Out of these substances, 89 % have at least one data endpoint where an alternative was used instead of a study on animals.
  • The most common alternative method was using information on similar substances (read-across), used in 63 % of the analysed substances, followed by combining information from different sources (weight of evidence, 43 %) and computer modelling (QSAR prediction, 34 %).

ECHA’s Executive Director Geert Dancet said:

“Testing chemicals on animals should be the last resort – when there is no other scientifically reliable way to assess the potential effects of chemicals on humans or the environment. However, registrants need to improve the quality of the alternative data. We will use this report’s findings to promote the proper use of alternative methods and to support their further scientific development. We encourage registrants for the 2018 deadline to use the available in vitro methods, read-across and QSARs.”

Read-across has been particularly used for human health endpoints, for example, developmental and reproductive toxicity. For skin and eye irritation, registrants mostly use existing data, read-across and in vitro studies, using cells, tissues or organs. For environmental endpoints such as bioaccumulation, long-term toxicity to fish and toxicity to birds, data waiving justification to omit studies is the most commonly used alternative to testing in animals.

Regulatory Studies


Taking all of the endpoints and substances analysed that can be filled by tests on vertebrate animals, registrants used data from new vertebrate animal studies in 11 % of the cases.

ECHA uses the report’s findings to promote alternative methods through its guidance, web pages, webinars and events. In addition, the Agency gives regulatory input to scientific projects and activities at EU and OECD level that contribute to the development of alternative methods.

Testing on vertebrate animals is only allowed as a last resort under REACH and ECHA’s objective is to promote non-animal testing methods and other alternatives. Every three years, ECHA reports to the Commission on how the alternative methods have been used to generate information on intrinsic properties of chemical substances and for the risk assessment.

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Source: ECHA
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