US no longer requires animal testing for human drugs

Pharmaceutical companies can still conduct animal tests if they choose

Senator John Kennedy holds a French bulldog as Senator Rand Paul looks on at a press conference. Getty
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The US Food and Drug Administration will not require animal testing before human testing in drug trials, new legislation passed by the House of Representatives says.

As part of the FDA Modernisation 2.0 bill, the regulatory agency will end its animal testing mandate for the approval of drugs to be used by humans, a requirement in place since the 1930s.

“The FDA Modernisation Act 2.0 will accelerate innovation and get safer, more effective drugs to market more quickly by cutting red tape that is not supported by current science,” Republican Senator Rand Paul said in a statement in January.

“The inclusion of this bipartisan effort is a step towards ending the needless suffering and death of animal test subjects — which I’m glad both Republicans and Democrats can agree needs to end.”

Democratic Senator Cory Booker introduced the bill alongside Mr Paul.

NPR reported that the move does not ban animal testing; it only removes the requirement for such drug test practices for FDA approval. Pharmaceutical companies can still conduct animal tests if they choose.

The agency told Science Magazine that it will recommend and support “alternative methods that are backed by science and provide the necessary data showing whether products are safe and effective” as part of the change.

Organisations such as Animal Wellness Action, Centre for a Humane Economy and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cheered on the adoption of the bill.

Some drug companies are against the requirement of animal tests, citing high costs and numerous animal deaths.

The bill did not go without opposition, including from the National Association for Biomedical Research and Americans for Medical Research, because of the novelty of non-animal testing options.

The legislation was passed in late December and President Joe Biden has formally signed it into law.

Updated: January 12, 2023, 11:11 PM