Animals in Research

What is Animals in Research?

The use of animals in research is a small but vital part of the process of bringing new medicines to patients. Although advances continue to be made in non-animal alternatives, some animal studies remain necessary to explore and understand fundamental science, as well as to establish the safety and efficacy of new medicines before they reach patients.   

Over 94% of our animal use involves rodents or fish, with mice being the most commonly used species overall. In 2020 we used approximately 74, 500 animals at our own facilities and a further 51,500 at external contact research facilities.


Our approach to Animals in Research

We consider the responsible use of animals to be ethically appropriate in biomedical research and product development, where suitable non-animal alternatives are not available. We share the concerns for animal welfare and recognise this as a serious responsibility. We are actively committed to high standards in animal care and to the principles of the ‘3Rs’ – Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animals in research – as well as being open and transparent about our work with animals. The Council for Science and Animal Welfare (C-SAW) is the expert group leading our global approach to animals in research, promoting the application of the 3Rs, supporting openness about animal use, and providing assurance that we meet our standards. We apply consistent standards to all work involving animals, whether is conducted ourselves or by third parties acting on our behalf.

We have been a signatory to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK since 2014. Whilst the Concordat is a UK initiative, we encourage our scientists and animal care teams worldwide to explore opportunities for increasing openness about the use of animals in science.

Promoting Animal Welfare and A Culture of Care

We recognise and celebrate our scientists and animal care staff for exceptional commitment to the 3Rs— replacement, reduction and refinement of animals in research. Our C-SAW Global 3Rs Awards is a competitive and highly visible awards programme that recognises excellence in 3Rs science and encourages continuing improvements in animal welfare across our company and with our external partners. Alongside the 3Rs Awards, we also call for nominations for exceptional individuals and teams in the categories of “Culture of Care” and “Openness” about animal research. See highlights from the most recent C-SAW Global 3Rs Awards below.

A novel molecular biology approach that would reduce the numbers of animals needed to screen lipid nano-particles by tagging the molecules of interest.

A refinement to anaesthetic methods in rats, allowing the use of less invasive nose cones instead of intubation during procedures.

A comprehensive programme of work and publications that ultimately provided the science for regulators in Europe to replace some animal studies previously using fish with non-animal alternatives. 

A cross-site collaborative project to encourage the uptake of refined methods of handling laboratory rodents.

An innovative approach to giving our employees an insight into the world of animal research, by developing a 360 virtual tour of one of our facilities.

Veeva ID: Z4-31657
Date of Prep: March 2021