Workshop “Access to 3Rs” at World Congress Alternatives great success!

August 28th, Prague

The SL!M consortium organised a workshop at the 9th World Congress on Alternatives And Animal Use in the Life Sciences. The workshop focussed on the feasibility to launch an independent 3R index to benchmark companies and insititutions on 3R policies. About 60 participants of the World Congress were present to participate in this workshop and the discussions. Dr. Herman B.W.M. Koëter, founder and Managing Director of the Orange House Partnership (OHP) was the workshop moderator and kicked off by a hand count of the representatives. As it turns out about 35% of the representatives is working in industry, about 60% in academia and the rest at other institutions, like Regulatory Bodies and 3Rs Centres. The ‘3Rs index’ as proposed here could motor the corporate responsibility of Industry for the use of animals and the implementation of 3R methods in their research and development. An important note was raised by Dr. Koeter, who strongly advocates the use of the term ‘better science’ instead of using 3Rs as an umbrella. The result of implementation of better (mechanistically based) models will ultimately lead to the reduction of the use of animals and will increase our scientific knowledge and mechanistic understanding.

The 3Rs index is a proposed benchmarking tool with which industry and other organizations that use animals in research and development could be ranked. The benchmarking of companies is not a novel issue. One example of an existing index, that could be very helpful to aid the foundation of a ‘3Rs index’, is the Access to Medicines Index (AMI) (http://www.accesstomedicineindex.org/). Peter Kustermans, affiliated to the AMI Foundation, presented the audience with an overview on the AMI.  The AMI is a ‘multi stakeholder approach that is not cast in stone but evolves over the years’. The index currently covers 20 companies, 103 countries and 33 diseases and these numbers are expanding. Over the years companies have displayed a healthy rivalry among each other to be at the top of the index. The criteria used to rank the companies include Commitments; Transparency; Performance and Innovation, over 7 technical areas.   

Dr. Gill Fleetwood (GlaxoSmithKline, Office of Animal Welfare, Ethics and Strategy) shared her views from a Pharmaceutical point of view on the matter. She explains that one of the striking things about the AMI is that is integrated in the policy making process of the company. In order for any index to be a succes, the campany must 'live' the index, so to speak.  

Dr. Cyrille Krul presented further details on the 3Rs index concept and provided more details on how such an index would look. After the presentations, the participants were given the opportunity to react to the speakers. From the lively dicussion that followed, it can be concluded that many are willing to invest in the idea and that the concept seems feasible. Of course there are remaning concerns, but the bottom line is that the idea was recieved very well. The workshop organizers will take the coming period to prepare a more elaborate survey among stakeholders to get a firm grip on drivers and also barriers to the concept of the 3Rs index.  

Stay tuned to this website for the full report on the workshop which is being drafted at this moment and will be published here on the 1st of October