Medical research and scientific innovations are evolving and progressing at an unprecedented rate. Scientific knowledge and technological innovations allow a better understanding of the human body, its mechanisms and how it responds to medical treatment. Research, development and production of medicines and vaccines continue to progress toward better adapted, safer and higher quality health solutions for patients. To support its solutions, a strong regulatory framework is required to oversee pharmaceutical companies, including on the use of animals in research, development and production.
Animal research raises dilemmas not only for scientists that use animals as part of their medical research, but also for society as a whole. The current consensus is that the use of animals in research is justified only if there are clear benefits for human and animal health. Although diminishing, animal research continues to be an integral part of any research and testing strategy, alongside non-animal methods (such as computer models and in vitro studies) and clinical research that, together, generate data sufficiently robust to ensure safe and appropriate health solutions for patients.
The most predictive scientific approaches must be chosen to ensure the safety and effectiveness of new and commercialized drugs and vaccines; thus, testing of vaccines prior to releasing batches is internationally required for public health reasons. Animal testing is mandated to ensure safety and effectiveness for the majority of the vaccines we develop.
Committed to the "3Rs"
As it is imperative to use animals to ensure the safety or quality of medicines or vaccines, all procedures must comply with regulations and experiments are optimized to avoid suffering or distress to the animals. Any use of animals is overseen by ethics committees that monitor the care and use of animals, as well as the active implementation of the “3Rs” (replacement, reduction and refinement of animals in research), to which Sanofi has been committed for several years "additional information on the principles of the 3Rs is available in the 2018 factsheet".
Active collaboration with other pharmaceutical companies and competent authorities fosters the development of good practices and alternative approaches across biomedical research. Examples are reported in EFPIA brochure: "Putting animal welfare principles and 3Rs into action".
Our approach is to use animals only in the absence of adequate alternative methods to achieve an identical result (Replace), to use the smallest number necessary for quality science (Reduce), and to use state-of-the-art practices to protect animal welfare and prevent animal pain and distress in living and procedural conditions (Refine).
Our research, development and production activities are conducted across all continents. To promote a common vision of animal protection throughout the company, a global, Group-level Policy on Animal Protection".
It strengthens our long-standing commitment to the “3Rs” and applies to all animals used for research, development and manufacture of medical products, vaccines, medical devices, veterinary products, nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients. It also applies to farmers, suppliers and transporters of animals for research, testing and production, as well as all to our partners, who use animals as part of their work with us.
As a result of this strategy, a continuous decrease of the use of animals is monitored.
Variation in numbers of animal used across the Sanofi Group, 2013-2016.
In Alba-la-Romaine (France), finding families looking after for horses used in the production of plasma
As part of its commitment to animal welfare and the responsible use of animals, Sanofi seeks to find host families for the horses used for plasma production. Sanofi has signed a collaboration agreement with GRAAL(in French), an association recognized for its work in the area of animal protection. GRAAL, which is dedicated to looking for host families for animals used in biomedical research, is supported by the pharmaceutical industry and public research institutions. This program enables young and healthy horses, accustomed to contact with people, to be adopted and used for recreation. To date, host families have been found for more than 110 horses through this collaboration for which the feedback has been highly positive.