The regulatory requirement still imposed on the pharmaceutical and chemical industry finds its foundations in the Nuremberg Doctors’ trial in 1946, which gave rise to the recommendations of the Nuremberg Code.
“Animal studies are done for legal reasons, not scientific ones”
(Dr James Gallagher — former director of the pharmaceutical company Lederle USA — American Medical Association Journal, 1964).
While national and European texts have since come to regulate the use of animals for research purposes (European convention STE 123, EC regulation 1907/2006, directive 2010/63/EU and its transposition in France Decree n ° 2013- 118), these texts wrongly continue to make animal experimentation a legal obligation ; this, despite not only the legitimate questions about the very effectiveness of the animal model but also the images and testimonies showing the cruelty of the living conditions of animals in the laboratories.
The progress that the Directive 2010/63/EU seemed to be able to bring in dealing with the too many problems of animal experimentation in research, in particular by its recital n°10 “[…] This Directive represents an important step towards the achievement of the ultimate goal of completely replacing procedures applied to living animals for scientific and educational purposes, as soon as scientifically possible » holds in several points.
The two most important are that of not imposing a deadline and not putting sufficient resources into the development and promotion of alternative methods to animal testing.
If not for stagnation, national and European figures for the number of animals used in research show an increase ; which clearly should alert us.
In France, scientific training is largely based on animal experimentation. Researchers find it hard to challenge this model, which puts us ahead of the pack of animal-consuming countries. Thus, France is one of the 3 countries in Europe (along with Germany and the United Kingdom), which practices animal experimentation the most.
The 2 largest areas of animal use are scientific research and the tests required by regulations to market a chemical substance (medicine, pesticide, household products, etc.); 2nd area which falls at European level within the framework of the REACH regulation and its ECHA agency.
In 2018, in France, this practice affected 4 million animals. This figure includes 2 categories : 1.9 million animals used in scientific studies and 2.1 million unused but needed for breeding first or in other uses.
Rodents remain the most widely used animals, but there are rabbits, birds and dogs (3226 in 2015) that are used to test certain candidate drugs. Laboratories also use cats, horses or donkeys, primates. Note that all of these animals are born and raised in establishments approved by the Ministry of Agriculture. The number of Drosophila worms and flies is very high, but these animals are not counted in official statistics.