The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recently updated its guidance on how to use non-animal testing methods to gather data for REACH substance registration. Last year, ECHA announced that non-animal testing would become the default requirements for specific categories, including skin corrosion/irritation, eye damage, acute dermal toxicity, and skin sensitization information requirements, but had not provided detailed advice on which methods were acceptable. Now, EHCA has released updated guidance on their website to help registrants choose and perform validated EU and OECD test methods that have regulatory acceptance. In addition, the guidance introduces the ability to use weight-of-evidence (WOE) for acute toxicity, where already existing data from several independent sources may be collected to support safety claims, rather than performing more experiments. Currently, if a company feels that they need to do animal testing to gather the required safety information, the testing plans must first be approved by ECHA and the Member States’ Authorities.
The EU has been actively phasing out the use of animal testing. Companies wishing to register a biocidal product must send an inquiry to ECHA to find out whether animal testing information has already been submitted for their product; if the information exists, companies are required to share their data. The Cosmetics’ Directive has banned animal testing on cosmetics products since 2004, on cosmetic ingredients since 2009, and a full ban on marketing animal-tested products since 2013 (regardless of the availability of non-animal tests). For companies needing to fulfill the testing requirements for both REACH and cosmetics, a factsheet on how to comply with animal testing rules was made available by ECHA.