Making Validated Alternatives Available -the Strategies and Work of the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM)

Valerie Zuang and Thomas Hartung

European Commission, JRC - Joint Research Centre
Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
ECVAM - European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods

AATEX 11(1):15-26, 2005

ECVAM was created in 1991 further to Directive 86/609/EEC on the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes which prescribes to use alternative methods whenever pos-sible. As a service of the EU Joint Research Centre, ECVAM has pioneered the validation process and became a proactive facilitator for effective animal protection, especially in the field of regulatory toxicology. The field of alternatives is currently driven by the expectations from both cosmetics and chemicals policies: The 7th amendment to the Cosmetics Directive published in 2003 foresees to phase out animal experiments completely within 10 years. A timetable for the phasing out of the individual animal tests published by the European Commission in September 2004 had been supported by a task-force of stakeholders chaired by ECVAM. The legislation is reinforced by an immediate testing ban for finished products and for all the human health effects, for which alternative methods have been vali-dated by ECVAM. Furthermore, a testing ban and a marketing ban, which cannot be postponed, apply in 6 years for topical and acute systemic toxicity, while the animal tests for all the other human health effects should be phased out in 10 years with a possible postponement by codecision procedure. The legislation for chemicals (REACH) is only emerging. It foresees data requirements for more than 30.000 substances produced at levels above 1 ton per year. Extensive in vivo data requirements are expected for a core of about 6.000 substances with highest production and concern. Alternative meth-ods shall first be considered throughout the testing and be predominantly used for the largest group of chemicals, namely those produced between 1-10 tons per year. A Commission proposal as to the legis-lation has been handed to the European Parliament and Council, and is currently under consultation.

Key words: toxicology, safety testing, nonanimal tests, validation, legislation.