On the long path in the development of new medicines, animal experiments are still indispensable in many cases. Interpharma member companies have made it their objective to address this sensitive area of research with the utmost responsibility and to make sure that animal welfare conforms to the highest standards. Switzerland’s laws on animal welfare are among the strictest in the world. With the Animal Welfare Charter that was introduced in 2010, the research-based pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland commit to continue promoting these high standards both nationally and internationally.

3Rs research – emergence of National Centre of Competence

Industry has consistently observed the principle of the 3Rs – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement – for years. Our member companies have valuable know-how and years of experience in the field of applied and targeted 3Rs research. They also want this expertise to be drawn on when the new National Centre of Competence for the 3Rs is established. In the spring of 2016, swissuniversities were commissioned by the federal government to elaborate the structure and remit of the 3Rs competence centre. Interpharma is active in the working group and sub-groups together with other stakeholders from academia and regulatory authorities. The establishment of this centre should be completed by the end of 2017 / early 2018.

Joint audits – promoting exchange

Since 2014, joint audits have been regularly carried out at breeders from which some Interpharma member companies obtain animals. These audits are aimed at identifying any deficiencies in the field of animal welfare early on and making improvements in a spirit of partnership. The audits consider the optimum approach to achieving compliance with the minimum legal requirements and seek to improve efforts that go beyond this minimum to ensure that the 3Rs are observed.

In 2016, a total of three audits were conducted in European countries (not in Switzerland). The results of the audits are used jointly within the member countries and treated confidentially. An audit process is very complex and requires profound and detailed knowledge of legislation and animal husbandry-specific requirements by all parties. During the actual audit, the Interpharma Audit Committee (usually representatives of two to three Interpharma member companies) inspects the individual animal housing facilities and meets with both the animal attendants on site and the veterinarians responsible. The joint checklist comprises around 200 questions.