Animal welfare

Ensuring the highest standards of care in animal testing

Before any new treatment can be used in humans, it must first be tested in animals to determine that it is safe and effective. The appropriate and responsible use of these experiments is an indispensable part of biomedical research.

We appreciate and take seriously public concern about the use of animals in medical research. We thus are committed to:

  • using only animal experiments where required to by law or where no scientifically-acceptable alternative is available
  • ensuring that all tests on animals are carried out responsibly
  • developing alternatives to animal testing

About alternatives to animal testing

Like all research-based healthcare companies, Roche conducts animal tests as required by regulatory authorities. If, however, the same test results can be achieved using scientifically-acceptable alternatives to animal testing, we will always use these. Following this practice, we have substantially reduced animal experiments at Roche, despite a substantial increase in the number of research projects.

We invest significantly in the development of testing methods that do not require animals, such as the use of computer simulation or isolated cells grown in a petri dish . In Switzerland, for instance, we support the 3R Research Foundation which funds the development or improvement of methods based on the 3R strategy:

  • Replace – Use alternatives to animal testing whenever possible.
  • Reduce – Improve existing methods so that fewer laboratory animals are required.
  • Refine – Improve existing methods so that animals experience as little discomfort and distress as possible.

Our standards

We maintain strict standards to ensure that our animal testing:

  • is justified on scientific grounds
  • uses the most appropriate animal species
  • uses as few animals as possible to achieve reliable results
  • causes the least possible amount of pain and distress

We provide training for all employees who work with animals and employ animal welfare officers to oversee best practices. We monitor their activities to ensure that they follow the law and apply the highest standards of animal welfare. Contractors who carry out animal testing for Roche are also expected to apply the same ethical standards. We conduct inspections to ensure this is the case.

Roche complies with all applicable local, national and international regulations. We also meet requirements relating to animal testing, as established by:

  • the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH Guidelines)
  • the EU directive on animal experiments
  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines

We also observe all applicable industry standards for animal experiments. Additionally, Roche Group Research Centres are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International. We are also a member of the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, a joint initiative between the European Commission, companies and trade associations.