Through a recently released notification in The Gazette of India, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has progressed towards humane drug-products testing by mandating the use of currently available non-animal test methods instead of forcing rabbits to endure eye and skin irritation and corrosion tests. The change follows efforts by PETA India, Union Cabinet Minister Maneka Gandhi, and others. PETA India has been pushing for Draize tests on rabbits to be banned, including via the expert committee formed by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to consider the matter. Draize tests involve restraining live rabbits while chemicals are applied to their eyes or shaved skin. The animals often suffer from ulcers, bleeding, and even blindness. But things are changing.
The Gazette notification, reads in part:
In the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, in Schedule Y, in Appendix III relating to Animal Toxicology (non-clinical toxicity studies), in paragraph 1, in sub-paragraph 1.4 relating to Local Toxicity,
(A) In Note (i) relating to Dermal toxicity study, for the words and brackets “Daily topical (dermal) application of test substance in its clinical dosage form should be done”, the words and brackets “the initial toxicity study shall be carried out by non-animal alternative tests as given in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines”, shall be substituted.
(B) In Note (vi) relating to Ocular toxicity studies (for products meant forocular instillation), after the words “need to include a recovery group.” the words “such initial toxicity studies shall be carried out by non-animal alternative tests as given in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines.” shall be substituted.
Experimenters have a variety of modern, non-animal in vitro methods at their disposal to test for skin and eye irritation and corrosion. These methods have been adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international body responsible for publishing international test guidelines. The non-animal methods may also be more human-relevant and faster than tests on animals.
You can help animals by choosing only cruelty-free products. Here’s a list of companies that don’t test on animals: