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UK Government bans Animal Testing on Household Products

The UK Government’s Home Office has announced a ban on testing of household products on animals, which comes into effect in October 2015.

Products included under the ban are:
Cleaning products
Laundry products
Air fresheners
Other decorating materials

The ban applies: “to any chemical, when more than half of it is expected to be used as an ingredient in household products.”

This is welcome news to Cyprotex as we have a longstanding history in pursuing non-animal-based prediction of pharmacokinetics and toxicology properties of pharmaceuticals using in vitro and in silico approaches. However, when we acquired the business and assets of CeeTox at the start of 2014, we were able to broaden our focus to include personal care and cosmetics products, as well as industrial and manufacturing chemicals, which fall under this ban. It’s also interesting to note that this announcement comes less than two months after the OECD announced test guidelines for two non-animal skin sensitisation assays; the Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (OECD TG 442C) and KeratinoSens™ assay (OECD TG 442D).

It’s unclear as whether this will apply to companies outside the UK hoping to export products there, but it is likely that this is the first of many similar bans that will appear worldwide. Additionally, by banning testing of household products on animals, the Home Office implies that in vitro assays have innovated to a point that the results are as reliable as animal-based models. This is significant because it may one day open the door to re-evaluation of standards and practices of animal trials in preclinical pharmaceutical development, allowing in vitro assays to play a greater role in development, selection and trialling of therapeutics compounds.

Despite this news, campaign groups are suggesting that the ban does not go far enough, and that the level at which the ingredients are tested should be much lower than the 50% level to really make a difference. No doubt this debate will continue and hopefully lead to further positive changes in the future.