Research using animals
When developing new medicines, research involving animals is a vital part of helping scientists to understand disease processes and ensure that new treatments are safe for patients.
Animals are only used in research when other methods are not sufficient, and the information cannot be gained any other way. This principle is central to animal research regulation in the UK, which is tightly controlled under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA).The ABPI and its members also build on these regulatory requirements, and actively work towards finding alternatives to the use of animals in research. This work is underpinned by the principles of the 3Rs –Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.
Public attitudes to animal research were most recently surveyed in 2018, reporting that around two thirds of the public can accept animal research for medical or scientific research purposes where there is no alternative. The report also found that close to 6 in 10 are interested in finding out more about work ongoing to find alternatives and improve the welfare of animals in research.
The ABPI is a signatory of the Concordat of Openness on Animal Research, alongside over 120 UK organisations, committing to clarity and openness about how and why animals are used in research. The ABPI also provides resources to schools on the topic of animal research to raise understanding of the subject, and to encourage informed debate and discussion. For more information on the work that industry does to deliver on its commitment to the principles of the 3Rs, and for more insight into career paths involving animals in research, please use the links below to navigate to additional content.
Read case studies from the industry connected with animals in research
The use of animals in research requires the adherence to stringent ethical and welfare standards. Many different job roles contribute to this, including some of the examples below.
More info on animal technologist careers: Careers | instanimaltech (iat.org.uk) or Careers in animal care | Understanding Animal Research (understandinganimalresearch.org.uk/)
I am responsible for the health and welfare of laboratory animals and for training junior animal technologists.
I was attracted to the industry by the breadth of research involved and the crucial interactions between scientists, clinicians and even lawyers.
Industrial Placement Pharmacologist
I think doing a placement in the pharmaceutical industry was a good opportunity to gain some experience working in a lab.
People with strong mathematical or engineering or both backgrounds would be highly suited to this role.
Summer placement student
My summer placement enabled me to get hands on experience with many specialist techniques.
Toxicology Study Director
As a graduate you are totally unaware of all the opportunities and possibilities that are available within the Pharmaceutical Industry.
I feel like I’m making a contribution to improving the health of both people and animals... because most of the drugs used in humans are also used in animals.
Members’ guide to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK
More than 80 organisations involved with life sciences, including universities, learned societies and pharmaceutical companies, have signed the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK and are committed to being more open about the ways in which they use animals in scientific research.
Animals and medicines research
The Animals and medicines research booklet addresses the role of animal research for the discovery and development of new medicines. It contains a number of case studies addressing the current social, medical, legal and welfare environment in which animal research for the development of new medicines takes place.
Animal research and human medicine
This schools booklet for teachers and their pupils in the 11–16 year age group covers the current social, medical, legal and welfare environment in which animal research for the development of new medicines takes place.
Non-rodent selection in pharmaceutical toxicology
A 'Points to Consider' document developed by the ABPI in conjunction with the UK Home Office.
Related news and blogs
ABPI response to animal RD statistics
New statistics show the number of research projects conducted in Great Britain that involved animals has fallen 15% since 2019.
ABPI response to the UK’s approach to EU negotiations
The UK Government has set out its approach to negotiations for the Future Relationship with the EU.