Collaborating to improve health

Janssen Europe, Middle East and Africa report

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Rewarding ethical and compassionate use of research animals

Animal testing continues to be a regulatory and scientific necessity to develop safe and effective medicines.

The 3Rs Award recognises the employee who makes a major contribution in one of these three areas:

  • 1
    Reduction refers to using the smallest number of animals possible.
  • 2
    Refinement is about developing test procedures that limit the potential for discomfort to animals.
  • 3
    Replacement tries to find ways to use alternative testing methods without animals whenever possible.

The 3Rs initiative was established by Johnson & Johnson as part of its commitment to Reduce, Refine and/or Replace animal use in biomedical research; education or training; or demonstrating the highest scientific integrity partnered with strong business performance. To this end, a number of specialised awards have been created.

The 3Rs Award encourages and recognises the Johnson & Johnson employee who makes a major contribution in one of these three areas. The prize is $5,000 and is awarded annually.

  • Reduction refers to using the smallest number of animals possible.
  • Refinement is about developing test procedures that limit the potential for discomfort to animals.
  • Replacement tries to find ways to use alternative testing methods without animals whenever possible.

The Animal Technician Award recognises outstanding performance by animal technicians responsible for the care of laboratory animals in Johnson & Johnson facilities. The goal of the award is to foster an increased awareness of the importance of the humane care of lab animals and to promote the development of improved approaches to vivarium operations. The prize is $3,500 and is awarded annually.

The Postdoc Award not only encourages excellence and innovation in pursuit of advancing the 3Rs, it aims to cultivate a creative corporate culture where top scientists and engineers serve as role models for others regarding the 3Rs. Each $80,000 grant will be annual for a period up to two years.

In addition to these global Johnson & Johnson awards, others exist throughout the Janssen EMEA region. One example is the ECD (Ethics Committee on Animal Experiments) Award, which is given at Janssen’s animal testing facility in Beerse, Belgium. The amount is for €500 and may be awarded twice annually.

Four recent proposals for this award included:

  • A model to reduce the number of mice killed in the research of a potential therapy for hepatitis B.
  • A more effective way to take blood samples from mice.
  • A more animal-friendly way to handle cotton rats.
  • An increase in the use of statistics that reduces the number of dogs needed for testing.

Not a one-way street

It should also be noted that animal testing is not only a legal or regulatory requirement to develop medicines for humans, but this is also the case for the approval of veterinary drugs. Humans and animals share many of the same illnesses, and fortunately for animals, quite a few of the drugs approved for human use also find their way into veterinary medicine. This is how antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers and dozens of other medicines find a double usage.

Finding homes for animals that were used in our laboratories is another way we care. To this end, we work with a number of animal welfare organisations, for example: in Belgium – Jodipro

Hopefully, advances in science will one day render animal testing obsolete. Until then, awards such as those above are helping the Johnson & Johnson family of companies improve in the 3Rs.