One of the biggest challenges cosmetic, pharmaceutical, or chemical manufacturers face is the time it takes to go from formulation of a product to the marketplace. Your lipstick, cleaning product or topical ointment may be poised to revolutionize its respective industry, but getting that product to market before your competitors will often determine its market share. You don’t want to rush a product to market without determining its safety. Not only is this practice unethical, having to recall a product due to safety problems is damaging to your brand. So, how do you take a product from development to market quickly and safely?
What We Do Now
In order to see how to save time on the journey from concept to market, it is important to look at the current process. For the sake of illustration, let’s look at the current process a cosmetic goes through to get from an idea to a product on the shelf.
A chemist at Company A figures out that hyaluronic acid, a compound already found naturally in the skin, can potentially be applied topically as an anti-aging moisturizer. Once that concept is accepted as a potential product, formulation begins with what Company A currently knows to be safe and effective. They may take an existing moisturizer and begin adding hyaluronic acid to it in a variety of concentrations, all the while looking for the fine line where the maximum amount of compound can be applied for maximum results without irritating the skin. This often involves several iterations of the product being tested on several animal subjects, each time waiting for and recording results. Once the product is determined safe, packaging and marketing can move forward as it is introduced to the market.
The biggest bottleneck to the current process is not the generation of ideas or the compounding process, but the testing process that determines whether a product is safe. Testing a variety of concentrations and then waiting for immediate reactions and long-term effects can take months for a product that is regulated by the FDA but does not necessarily require FDA approval. That same process can often last for years for pharmaceuticals that must go through more rigorous federal approval processes, even if they only come into casual contact with the skin.
Animal Testing Alternatives
Fortunately, there are alternatives to animal testing that can determine the safety of a product in a fraction of the time. Rather than waiting for a possible short- and long-term reaction in the eyes or on the skin of an animal, in vitro test methods can use macromolecular changes to predict whether a chemical, mixture or product will be irritating to the eyes or skin. Where traditional testing methods take weeks of observation before reformulation can begin, these alternative testing methods can offer quantitative results in as little as one day. Most notably, animal testing alternatives are highly reproducible. As a result, formulations and their irritancy can be compared side by side without regard for variations that are always present in multiple animal test subjects.
Eliminating the animal testing logjam from new product development and replacing it with data-rich, reproducible results ready for FDA examination can change the way we do business. Necessary and revolutionary medications can reach the consumer faster than the typical 10 years it takes to go from idea to FDA approval. Cosmetics that improve the quality of life of the user can be applied to faces across the country in weeks, rather than the months or years it typically takes. Chemicals that are necessary parts of the human experience can be deemed safe for use in a fraction of the time. Let us show you how InVitro’s Irritection Assay System can offer you a competitive advantage you cannot pass up.