Cruel botox tests finally on the decrease in Ireland but progress remains too slow
Decrease in ‘severe’ experiments in Ireland is attributed to the replacement of mice with a cell-based test for botox batch testing
Responding to a question tabled in the Irish parliament, the country’s health minister, Stephen Donnelly TD, confirmed that the number of experiments carried out on animals reported to cause severe suffering had dropped by 16% between 2017 and 2019. A report in yesterday's Times quotes the Minister as saying that “the reduction in the proportion of procedures reported as severe could be attributed to the reduction in regulatory use of animals.” We have calculated that this reduction reflects a decrease in the use of mice for botulinum toxin (botox) batch testing, which accounts for the overwhelming majority of all animal experiments in Ireland. In this test mice are injected into their abdomens with the botulinum toxin and over the next three days, become increasingly paralysed. If left, mice in the higher dose groups will suffocate to death within approximately three days. Approximately 50% of the mice per test die. The rest are killed at the end of the test anyway. It is classified as causing severe suffering.
While the news is a welcome step in the right direction, all major toxin manufacturers now have a validated cell-based test to replace the cruel LD50 test, which has been accepted by regulatory authorities across Europe which means that no botox testing should be taking place at all. The total use of animals in Ireland has dropped from 242,302 uses in 2017 to 136,164 uses in 2019 (44% decrease). This decrease is attributable to a significant decrease in the use of mice used in botulinum toxin batch testing, recorded as batch potency tests. Our Director of Science, Dr Katy Taylor said: “While these figures are encouraging, we cannot overlook the shocking fact that over 90,000 tests were still conducted despite the availability of an accepted non-animal replacement. We hope, when Ireland’s animal testing statistics are next reported, to see that all botulinum toxin testing on animals has stopped for good. This is a clear example of cruel and unnecessary testing that should no longer be allowed to happen.” Speaking on behalf of Cruelty Free Europe’s Irish member organization, Suzanne Antonia, founder of the SAFRIreland platform, said: “Since there is now a validated cell-based test to replace the LD50 test, it makes perfect sense to start applying this method of research now, therefore successfully reducing the amount of animals used in tests in Ireland on a significant scale. Ireland is at the forefront of great achievements in recent decades. SAFRIreland believes that we can also achieve animal free science in a respective frame of time.” For more information on the botulinum toxin tests and other animal tests still happening in Europe despite the availability of accepted non-animal tests, we have our RAT (Replace Animal Test) list. We are calling on European regulators to immediately end experiments on animals, including cruel botox tests, where valid non-animal methods already exist.
"This is a clear example of cruel and unnecessary testing that should no longer be allowed to happen.”