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NHS: Drugs

Volume 506: debated on Monday 22 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2010, Official Report, column 558W, on drugs: testing, if he will commission research on the comparative (a) safety and (b) effectiveness of (i) human biology-based testing and (ii) animal testing of new drugs and treatments. (317610)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills does not commission research directly but provides funding to the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) through the research councils.

The NC3Rs has a number of projects which assess the value of animal research in drug development and safety testing. For example, an evidence-based review of conventional single dose acute toxicity studies for pharmaceuticals has shown that they provide limited information for human safety. Based on these data the regulatory requirement to carry out these studies prior to clinical trials has been removed.

The Medical Research Council’s (MRC) own research programmes contribute to developing new knowledge or methods that help replace or refine animal use.

The MRC invests substantially in drug safety science including the new MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science in Liverpool and Manchester, the MRC’s Toxicology Unit in Leicester, and the Integrative Toxicology Training programme. The aims include evaluation of the potential contribution of new technologies to the pre-clinical toxicological assessment of drugs and integration of the results with the findings from clinical studies.