Conducting animal research responsibly

Novartis fully supports the use of alternatives to animal research wherever feasible. We have a Global Animal Welfare Policy and a set of animal welfare standards that define key principles, responsibilities and explicit requirements governing animal research. All studies sponsored by Novartis, whether conducted internally or externally, must adhere to this policy and standards.

We adhere to the 3R principles: reducing the number of animals in studies, refining study methods to improve the animal’s experience, and replacing animal studies with alternative options. Each year, we recognize exceptional contributions to the 3Rs through global and local 3R awards. In 2020, award-winning projects:

  • Replaced animals and reduced their number to monitor and maintain high standards of rodent health through exhaust air dust analysis
  • Reduced the number of rodents in nerve regeneration studies through AI screening of rodent cells
  • Replaced animals used in assessing tumorigenicity for new cell and gene therapies by a soft agar-based benchtop assay

In 2020, we established a Ph.D.-trained 3R scientist role to further strengthen our culture of ethical science at Novartis and to help advance the reduction, replacement and refinement of animal studies.

We also added a unique new role: a specialty-trained veterinarian to liaise between internal scientists and those conducting sponsored animal studies at external partner sites. This change has facilitated greater implementation of the 3R principles, and enhanced the level of ethical oversight before, during and after animal studies conducted by third parties. Further, our team of animal welfare experts prospectively and continually audits third parties.