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Working together to decrease animal testing

Working together to decrease animal testing

Animal testing happens for a reason. It is a legal requirement when developing medicines, and it is strictly regulated. Janssen is committed to limiting the number of animals tested as much as possible. However, without animal testing, not a single drug would have been approved. Various European guidelines, national laws and regulations state that clinical tests cannot be conducted on humans before first being performed on animals. Such tests must be conducted under the most stringent conditions and may only be performed if there are no alternatives.

Ethical and experimental control

The law imposes strict rules on conducting and documenting animal tests and on the treatment and care of lab animals. Janssen strictly complies with these laws and abides by the highest standards in order to guarantee animal welfare.

Every scientific study involving animals is presented to an ethics committee. This committee is made up of at least seven specialists who combine the seven areas of expertise between them: ethics, alternative methods, animal health, animal welfare, scientific methodology, experimental design and statistics. With every research project, the committee verifies whether alternative testing methods to animal testing are available and whether the research is being conducted with the utmost respect for the wellbeing of the animal and in accordance with all legal and ethical standards. For all animal testing, the following ethical question is considered: What can science learn from it, and is this appropriately proportional to the animal's welfare?

The four Rs

Furthermore, Janssen uses the principle of the 4 Rs: Replacement, reduction, refinement and responsibility.

  • Replacement means that, whenever possible, studies are conducted without animals. This can be done, for example, by using cell cultures, 3D cell structures, chip technology (e.g. organ-on-a-chip), physio-chemical methods, molecular biology or mathematical models.

  • Reduction means that the number of lab animals must be reduced whenever possible. However, this number should never be less than the minimum number required to obtain reliable results.

  • Refinement refers to the well-being of the animals. Employees should always think of ways to reduce suffering and harm for the animal to the greatest possible extent. In addition to researchers, animal caregivers and vets, who are concerned with the well-being of the animals, are also part of the team. This aspect is also followed up and reported to the European Commission.

  • Responsibility means that the company and its employees must always treat the animals with respect.

Actively using less animal testing

At Janssen, all potential medicines are tested in vitro first. This allows us to make an initial, important selection and significantly reduce the number of required animal tests.

However, for now, only animal testing can imitate a human organism in all its complexity. This is why animal testing is still necessary for answering certain research questions. Hopefully, one day, animal testing will no longer be necessary. But as long as that is not the case, animal tests remain a necessity in scientific research on medicines for humans and animals.

For more information, please see: J&J Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Animals.

Adopt a Janssen dog

Since 2013, Janssen has run a dog adoption program. In collaboration with experienced specialists from the non-profit organization Animal Welfare Projects Jodipro, dogs that are no longer used for tests are prepared for a well-deserved retirement. The dogs aren't just given away to anyone who wants one — each dog first goes to stay with a host family for four to six weeks, after which it will be permanently rehomed. The fact that these dogs are able to perfectly transition into a family environment is the best proof that animals at Janssen are kept in the most normal environment possible and are treated well. Around 150 dogs have already found a new home through the adoption program.

Janssen also has a walking program, where dogs are taken out for long walks to get them used to outdoor stimuli. That way, they are prepared as well as possible for their new life outside the company.

Greater transparency

In November 2019, Janssen signed a transparency agreement, together with around 20 other Belgian research centers. Together, we are committed to communicating more frequently and openly about animal testing.

The agreement contains four commitments:

  1. Being clear about how, when and why we use animals in research
  2. Enhancing our communications with the media and the public, including the implementation of alternative methods and the reduction or refinement of animal testing
  3. Providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals and the regulations that govern it
  4. Reporting annually on the impact that these communications have had and sharing our experiences

At Janssen, we consider this agreement, which was signed by a considerable number of research centers in the biomedical sector, to be an important step. The agreement underlines the importance that we attach to animal welfare.

More information and the full text of the transparency agreement can be found here

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