Cruelty Free International

A shocking 400,000 animals used in controversial botox testing every year – new study shows

Press release   •   Oct 12, 2018 17:04 BST

A paper authored by European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) scientists has this week revealed that an estimated 400,000 animals a year are used in cruel poisoning tests for botulinum toxin, commonly known as “botox” [1]. The shocking figure from the ECEAE science paper Botulinum toxin testing on animals is still a Europe-wide issue shows that the number of animals being used in botox testing across Europe is at a record level.

There have been significant developments in the use of animals to test botox products in Europe in recent years. A cell-based method has been validated by multinational pharmaceutical company Allergan and is now being used for the replacement of mice in the batch testing of their botulinum toxin A products. Two other healthcare companies, Merz and Ipsen [2], have recently validated similar cell-based “assays” to replace animals in their batch tests.

However, the number of animals being used in botox testing across Europe still remains at record levels. Based on official statistics and non-technical summaries, the ECEAE estimates that 400,000 animals per year suffer and die in controversial Lethal Dose (LD50) poisoning tests, which involve groups of mice being injected in the abdomen with different dosages of poison before slowly suffocating to death through muscle paralysis while fully conscious.

The ECEAE, an alliance of leading European animal organisations, is concerned about the authorisation of animal testing for botulinum toxin products that are to be used for aesthetic purposes. The coalition calls for a review into whether testing for companies that have not yet implemented the alternative method should continue to be permitted under the EU Directive 2010/63 on the use of animals for scientific purposes.

Dr Katy Taylor, Director of Science at the ECEAE, says: “It is completely unacceptable that sentient animals are subjected to an agonizing death for a product that is widely used for cosmetic purposes, despite a non-animal alternative being available. Whilst we are on the cusp of an era where more humane non-animal methods are replacing animals for the testing of botulinum toxin A for injection, it is important that Europe sees a reduction of animal testing in real terms. We urge all botox companies across Europe to end the cruel suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of animals and make these cruel botox tests a thing of the past.”

Although occasionally used for medical purposes, botox is best known for its cosmetic use to temporarily reduce facial lines and wrinkles. An EU ban on the manufacture and import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals has been in place since March 2013, but botox is not included because it is a product that is injected and not applied to the skin (the definition of a ‘cosmetic’). This loophole in EU law permits hundreds of thousands of mice to be used in cruel tests for the substance worldwide every year.

ENDS

For more information, please contact the ECEAE media office; email: media@crueltyfreeinternational.org telephone: +44 (0) 207 619 6978 or +44 (0) 7850 510 955

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Botulinum toxin testing on animals is still a Europe-wide issue by Dr Katy Taylor, Corina Gericke and Laura Rego Alvarez. Published Oct 10, 2018 by Alternatives to Animal Experimentation: https://www.altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/1138
  1. https://www.ipsen.com/commitments/ethics-and-compliance/

The European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) was formed in 1990 by organisations across Europe to successfully campaign to ban cosmetics testing on animals. Today we lead campaigning on all animal testing issues in Europe, and are the only organisation solely dedicated to being a voice for animals in EU laboratories.

The ECEAE pulls together extensive expertise, experience and knowledge from major European animal protection organisations. We work with MEPs and officials to ensure that animals in laboratories are high on the European political agenda. We campaign for humane, modern science and progressive legislation. We also run public education campaigns and work with companies to encourage them to go cruelty free.

www.eceae.org

Cruelty Free International is one of the world’s longest standing and most respected animal protection organizations. The organization is widely regarded as an authority on animal testing issues and is frequently called upon by governments, media, corporations and official bodies for its advice or expert opinion. www.crueltyfreeinternational.org