Through the EPAA (European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing), the European Commission together with the EPAA partners from industry is working to identify and enable opportunities for 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of Animal Testing) approaches to be developed and implemented in Europe and globally.
EPAA is a unique voluntary co-operation between seven industry sectors (animal health, chemicals, cosmetics, crop protection, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, soaps and detergents), and five European Commission services dedicated to promote the 3Rs in regulatory testing. The EPAA has been promoting the adoption of alternatives at the international level, through bodies such as the OECD and the International Co-operation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM). In the future, EPAA plans to collaborate with the ICH (The International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use.
At the occasion of its eighth conference on 16 November 2012, the EPAA covered the theme of “Global implementation of 3Rs methodologies through international co-operation”. Indeed, there is also a lot of expertise in the alternatives field in the United States, China, India, Japan and Brazil. All aforementioned regions are willing to share science-based opportunities, good practice across industry sectors to replace, reduce and refine animal testing where possible.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the EPAA and the US-based Institute for In Vitro Sciences. Both sides agreed to establish a strategic partnership dedicated to the international dissemination of alternative techniques for safety evaluation which are replacing animal testing.
Since Russell and Burch's concept of 3Rs was developed in 1959, Europe has led the way embedding 3Rs principles in many activities of the European Commission.
Whereas the Commission has a number of initiatives in this area (like in the EU Research Framework Programme, The REACH Regulation, the Pharmaceutical area and in the Cosmetics directive) EPAA focuses on exploiting synergies which prevent double-financing and enable cross-fertilization across sectors. EPAA initiates research like the vaccines consistency approach in 2012, which aims to reduce and replace animal testing in vaccines batch releases. EPAA has proven continuous progress in 3Rs by sharing best science and regulatory safety practice amongst industry sectors, becoming a trusted international stakeholder on 3Rs. EPAA will therefore continue to concentrate on international cooperation to develop joint approaches to 3Rs.