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Animal Welfare

Inter-Departmental Group on Reduction, Refinement and Replacement

The Inter-Departmental Group on Reduction, Refinement and Replacement (3Rs) aims to improve the application of the 3Rs and promote research into alternatives, reducing the need for toxicity testing through better sharing of data, and encouraging the validation and acceptance of alternatives.

Introduction

The Data Sharing Group drafted the Inter-Departmental Data Sharing Condordat published in August 2000 and was re-formed in June 2002 to consider the scope for the greater application of the 3Rs - the replacement of animal use, reduction of the number of animals used and the refinement of the procedures involved to minimise suffering. The 3Rs Group agreed its new name and terms of reference on 25 February 2003.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference of the 3Rs Group are "to improve the application of the 3Rs and promote research into alternatives, reducing the need for toxicity testing through better sharing of data, and encouraging the validation and acceptance of alternatives."

Membership

The Group is led by Home Office officials and has members from the Department of Health, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Science and Technology, the Food Standards Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and other agencies.

UK Centre for research into the 3Rs

Arising from the Government response to the report of the House of Lords Select Committee on animals in scientific procedures, the Group was asked to explore the scope for a United Kingdom centre for research into the 3Rs. As a starting point to its work on the issue, the Group commissioned a survey of scientific stakeholders to establish what work is currently being done on the 3R’s, future priorities and the scope for co-ordination. This was carried out by the Chief Inspector of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Inspectorate.

Based on this survey, in September 2003, the Group reported to Ministers that there was support for a body which would act as a means to better publicise and co-ordinate what is already done by way of research into the 3Rs, that there was agreement amongst the scientific community that each of the 3Rs is important, and that work on the 3Rs should remain part of mainstream biomedical research rather than be separated from it. The Group also reported that there was support for an internet portal to provide easy access to reference material and advice, and strong support for the Medical Research Council's Centre for Best Practice in Animal Research as a major new resource in relation to fundamental research.

These responses formed the basis for the Group's further consideration of the Select Committee's recommendation. The Group submitted its final report to Ministers in February 2004. This recommended that a new national centre should be set up and that the Office of Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry should take the lead in establishing it.

Ministers announced their decision to set up a National Centre for Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NCRRRAR) on 21 May 2004.

Data Sharing Concordat

The Group has reviewed the Inter-Departmental Data Concordat on Data Sharing announced in August 2000 and presented its findings to Ministers in June 2004. The group concluded that the Concordat provides a sound framework for action and that no changes are required to its provisions. Another review will be carried out in 2006.

Guidance on the Conduct of Regulatory Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Studies

Guidance on the Conduct of Regulatory Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Studies was first published in June 2001 and is currently under review. It is planned to issue an up dated and revised version of the guidance later in 2004.

 

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