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. The activities and achievements of member companies in the field of animal welfare and the 3Rs are summarized in the annual report.
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 want to draw on this expertise with the new National Centre of Competence for the 3Rs (3RCC). The 3RCC is organized as an association and has been established at the University of Bern since spring 2018. Aside from 11 universities, the centre also enjoys the support of Interpharma, Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) and the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO). The objective is specifically to promote 3Rs research projects and to support the sustainable implementation of relevant results in collaboration with industry and universities. A further aim of the centre is to provide services for enforcement agencies, industry and universities in the field of communications and 3Rs training and continuing education.
Joint audits – promoting exchange
Since 2014, joint audits have been regularly carried out at breeders and external contract research organizations (CROs). 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 also seek to improve efforts to ensure that the 3Rs are observed.
In 2018, four audits were conducted at foreign animal breeders and CROs in Europe. 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 Interpharma member companies) inspects the individual animal housing facilities and meets with both the animal attendants on site and the veterinarians responsible. The joint audit checklist comprises around 200 questions.