chemical and pharmaceutical companies
Merck boss advocates phasing out animal testing
The number of animal experiments at Merck has fallen by 17 percent. “But it’s not enough,” says the CEO. That’s why Garijo makes a forecast as to when methods without the use of animals will come onto the market.
The head of the Darmstadt-based Dax group Merck, Belén Garijo, wants to significantly reduce the number of animal tests for the development and product safety of medicines and chemicals in the coming years. “We don’t want to do any more animal experiments,” she said in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” according to the advance notice. According to the report, Merck used almost 150,000 animals for experiments last year, mostly rats and mice. The number has fallen by 17 percent over the past five years, Garijo said. “I’m proud of that, but it’s not enough.”
Alternative methods, such as experiments on cell cultures in the laboratory, could provide data on product safety that is as reliable as animal experiments. It is now a question of convincing the supervisory authorities of this. In Canada and the United States, this has already been achieved to some extent. “In Europe, the debate is going in the same direction. These are encouraging signals. This is not a fad, but a fundamental change,” said Garijo.
Animal testing has long been criticized by animal rights activists. Merck boss Garijo said that in drug development, the new technologies to replace animal testing are not yet mature enough to be used immediately. However, it is only a matter of time before it will happen – then alternative methods could even enable more accurate predictions of the effectiveness of drugs than animal experiments. “I venture a personal speculation: It will no longer be a question of decades, but only of years.”