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EU Commissioner warns of slow progress on alternatives to animal testing in cosmetics

By Guy Montague-Jones , 18-Jun-2009

An EU Commissioner has warned that progress on alternative testing methods for certain endpoints looks set to remain static for several years to come.

The ban on animal testing will be completed in 2013 but the enforceability of the ban is dependant on safe and effective alternative testing methods.

Meglena Kuneva, EU Commissioner for consumer affairs, expressed concern in Colipa’s annual report that progress is slow in some areas.

In her keynote message, Kuneva said: “Although considerable progress has been achieved for certain endpoints such as sensitisation and irritation, the outlook for others, including cancer or reproductive toxicity, looks like it will remain static for several years to come.”

Need for investment

To accelerate efforts, Kuneva called for more resources to be invested in the search for alternative methods.

She said: “I therefore hope that more efforts will be invested in this area, including from the cosmetics industry, in order to accelerate the development of new scientific concepts and techniques such as Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationships (QSARs), in order to comply with given deadlines in 2009 and 2013.”

Recently, industry bodies and international agencies have unveiled projects designed to speed up the discovery and adoption of alternative methods.

At the Colipa general assembly at the end of May, Dr Horst Wenck, chair of Colipa’s strategic project team on alternatives, said the industry would be engaging with the European Commission in a future project. He said the project would see a total of €50m devoted to research into alternative methods in the field of systemic toxicity.

International agreement

Earlier in the year, international agencies from the US, Canada, Japan and the EU signed a co-operation agreement to speed up the process for adopting alternative methods.

William Stokes, the executive director of ICCVAM and director of NICEATM, told Cosmetics Design back in April that delays had been caused by a lack of international cooperation. He said different countries were producing different recommendations on the same testing methods.

The cooperation agreement aims to cut out unnecessary delays by preventing these differences and coordinating the review process so recommendations are harmonized.

In its annual report, Colipa expressed confidence that alternative testing developments will keep pace with legal deadlines. Referring to the March ban, the report said: “Alternative testing technology has enabled this change. Clean technology will help speed other necessary changes.”

Colipa also promised to keep its members updated on any advances, adding: “And however quickly progress is made, Colipa will make sure all stakeholders are kept up to date.”