Allergan, a Botox producer in Ireland, have developed a non-animal alternative to the horrific and unreliable LD50 test on mice that is applied to each batch of Botox. Great news?!
For the LD50 test, groups of mice are injected with different doses of Botulinum toxin into the abdomen. Many of the mice suffer from paralysis, impaired vision and respiratory distress. After up to three or four days of suffering, if left, they die of suffocation. Undercover investigations by the BUAV reveal that, in practice, attempts by staff to intervene and kill the mice before they died this agonising death often fail, with many more mice dying from the effects of the toxin instead of being killed before that happens.
I’ve been providing policy advice to the Irish Anti-Vivisection Society, and we’ve discovered that, sadly, Allergan have not yet shared their humane testing technology, so other companies like Ipsen and Merz are still doing the LD50 test, as reported by the Irish Examiner on 5 September 2012. It seems like Allergan would rather force their competitors to spend money developing their own non-animal test, rather than share their technology.
Legislation says that animal tests must be replaced by non-animal alternatives where ‘reasonably and practically available’. In practice, this non-animal alternative is available in these terms to Ipsen and Merz, they just need to take action with Allergan’s cooperation. The public are given the impression that the animal testing industry and government bust a gut to save animals from unnecessary testing and that if alternatives are available they will be used instead of animals. This episode will shock the public when they see how commercial greed is allowed to take precedence and obstruct the sharing of lifesaving technologies (which also happen to be much better tests in terms of improving the safety of these products for humans), especially when a large proportion of these unnecessary animal tests are for cosmetic Botulinum products.
The Irish Government have been very complacent on this – though that seems to be standard practice for national governments generally. It is their legal and moral duty to bring Allergan and the other companies together to spare thousands of animals from unnecessary abuse.