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What Impact Do State Laws Against Animal Testing Have on The Skin Care Industry?

Animal testing for skin care products in the U.S. can be a highly-charged, emotional topic. There are many pros and cons on this procedure, with some states banning the process outright, without trying to find an alternative that would satisfy the needs of the industry’s human clients while appeasing the concerns of the animal rights activists. Although animal testing is not specifically required by the FDA for cosmetics, it has also not been implicitly banned at the federal level in the United States. A bipartisan Humane Cosmetics Act has been introduced in Congress and seeks to follow the example of the European Union by doing so. Until that law is enacted, the issue is currently being debated on a state by state basis.

In 2002, California politicians enacted legislation which made it the first state to prohibit using traditional animal testing methods for skin care products, when an alternative test that has been approved by the Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) is available. Other states that have banned animal testing for cosmetic care products with similar restrictions include New Jersey, New York and Virginia. These bans did not prevent companies from marketing cosmetic products that had been tested on animals elsewhere; however, California also recently enacted legislation that will make it illegal as of January 1, 2020 to sell cosmetics, with minimal exceptions, that have been (or include ingredients that have been) tested on animals.

Ethical and legal considerations aside, animal testing results may not be reliable enough for companies that invest great sums of money in cosmetics research, marketing and production. Some animal species may respond differently to specific irritants, and test results can sometimes prove difficult to interpret. This may produce skewed results if they are extrapolated to human consumers. At the very least, manufacturers are attempting to reduce the number of animals involved and to refine the procedures used.

In light of all of this, how is an ethical manufacturer supposed to produce a product that is legal, effective and safe, and that appeals to a more socially aware marketplace? Fortunately, alternatives that do not involve the use of animal testing are becoming more available. These may involve human blood and tissue samples, artificial skin, or computer models which can deliver human-based results. These alternatives can actually produce results more quickly than long-term, animal-based tests, with the added benefit of being more reliable and cost-effective than results obtained through other means.

One area making great strides in the cosmetics industry is in vitro testing. This is being used to confirm the lack of certain toxic properties in cosmetic products, as well as their ingredients. It can safely be used to test product efficacy and receive regulatory approval. Examples of safer, in vitro test methods which represent the very best techniques that modern science has to offer include Irritection® and Corrositex® from InVitro International. The Irritection® Assay System allows users to predict the ocular and dermal irritancy of chemicals, mixtures and product formulations, while Corrositex® is used to determine chemical corrosivity. Corrositex® has also been approved for determining GHS/UN Packing Group classifications that are required for the storage and transport of corrosive substances.

About InVitro International: Headquartered in Placentia, CA, InVitro International was established in September 1985. The company is recognized as being a pioneer in the development and application of non-animal testing alternatives for irritation and skin toxicity testing. Its mission is to assist the cosmetics industry in the development and marketing of faster, simpler more cost effective product and environmental safety testing methodologies. Visit our website or call 800-246-8487 for further information on non-animal testing alternatives.

Chemical Screening Software May Be More Effective than Animal Testing

For many decades, animals have been subjected to toxicity testing in order to determine whether certain compounds were safe for use in the environment or in humans. In many cases, this testing has led to severe and even deadly side effects for the animals in question. To prevent these negative outcomes, researchers have been searching for alternatives to animal testing. Recently, toxicologists have successfully developed a software program that may be more effective than animal testing, thus reducing the need for animal-based experiments.

About the Software

The software program created is capable of predicting the outcomes of animal assays, which eliminates the need to perform the actual test. In order to develop this program, the researchers gathered information from the US National Toxicology Program, PubChem and other public databases. Using this information, the researchers developed an algorithm that was 87 percent accurate in predicting the results of an animal test. Repeating animal tests is only effective 81 percent of the time, making the algorithm a more effective testing option.

During the course of their research, the scientists also discovered that animal testing involves a high level of redundancy. They discovered 69 chemicals in the database that had been tested more than 45 times each, in many cases by different companies. Two of these chemicals had been tested more than 90 times each.

Although the algorithm performed at least as well as the actual animal tests in the simulations conducted, this method still comes with limits. Specifically, the program has not been able to accurately predict a chemical’s propensity to cause cancer or other long-term effects.
The work on this program was partially funded by Underwriters Laboratories, a safety science company based out of Illinois. This company has already released the software they created to other companies that want to evaluate their chemicals before releasing them.

What It Means for Animal Testing

The United States and several other countries have established regulations that determine how companies must evaluate new chemicals that are intended to be used for consumer products, in the environment or for commercial purposes. Most of these regulations require companies to submit data on the safety of these chemicals before they can be sold or distributed. However, many of these countries are also working to limit the use of animals in the chemical testing process.

For example, in the United States, the National Toxicology Program, Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health initiated a program to develop better, more efficient non-animal toxicity tests in 2008. In 2016, the United States passed a law that requires federal agencies to make an effort to reduce and replace animal testing with alternatives. In the European Union, animal testing for cosmetic products has been banned since 2013.

The FDA is currently in the process of testing and evaluating this new software program. If the program proves successful in the long run, it will provide an inexpensive alternative to animal testing that could revolutionize testing processes all over the world. This program is unlikely to be the end of animal testing altogether, but it represents a step in the right direction.