IOC Animal Welfare Statement
Before safe, effective medicines and treatments for disease can be produced, we must first understand the disease process. Scientists look to animal models to find the answer to critical questions such as “what is going wrong” and “how can we help?” Scientists utilize the similarity in structure and function that animals share with humans to understand diseases and create new therapies for humans and animals.
Before clinical trials in humans can begin, proposed new therapies must first be shown to be efficacious, i.e. to help the patient as intended, and to understand any potential risks with the new therapy in animals. During early molecule development, studies with animals are necessary to determine if the new compound is effective at treating the disease in question (Drug Discovery) and to compare those results against current best practices. This step is necessary: despite the many scientific advancements we have made, there is much unknown about the complex biological systems of humans AND animals. Following thorough screening of many initially promising new molecules, only around 250 will advance to the next phase (Preclinical) looking at how safe these molecules are if used in humans and/or animals. The drug development process is complex and rigorous, moving through phases of discovery, safety and efficacy, and eventually human clinical trials. Of 5,000- 10,000 potential new medicines, only 5 on average will meet the high standards required to move into human clinical trials, and only 1 will be approved. To ensure the safety of human patients, all countries around the world have drug evaluation and approval processes that include contributions from animals.
Animal research is highly regulated through US government agencies (USDA*, FDA*, OLAW*), and by governmental agencies across the globe. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies exceed the government requirements by additionally achieving voluntary accreditation by AAALAC International, an intensive formal review process that evaluates institutions on adherence to the Guide*, and through internal standards and practices. The 3Rs* (reduction, replacement, refinement) are universally accepted guiding principles, applied to ensure critical consideration of how and what research must be conducted in animals.
The benefits of animal research to humans are not theoretical - they bring longer and healthier life to real human beings. Patients share their stories of hope - increased time with their loved ones, the ability to move without pain, to see, to walk, and regaining quality of life they thought was lost forever. Patients also share their hopes for treatment of diseases currently without effective interventions - Alzheimer’s, pancreatic cancer, and many others.**
Animal research has made human and animal lives better around the world. The IOC members embrace our responsibility for ethical and humane animal welfare, and to the patients relying on science to deliver safe and effective medicines to improve lives. We support strong policies to ensure animal research is aligned with our values, and we know that there remains much to be done for patients still in need.