Animal Care and Welfare

The Labcorp global animal welfare policy is founded on our commitment for the respectful and humane care and use of animals in our research. Animal research is critical and required by government bodies in the development of new, safe and effective medicines, devices and products that protect and save the lives of people and animals. 

We treat animals we work with in biomedical research humanely, with care, compassion and respect. We adhere to strict standards of ethical conduct in providing for their welfare. We believe that taking good care of our animals is not only good science but the right thing to do.

Our commitment to the welfare of animals we work with in research extends to our animal-related suppliers who are vetted through a global vendor qualification process.

We adhere to regulations applicable and relevant to Labcorp, which include:

  • Directive 2010/63/EU, the protection of animals used for scientific purposes
  • Germany Animal Protection Act (Tierschutzgesetz)
  • Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (United Kingdom)
  • Animal Welfare Act (United States)
  • Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
  • Regulation for Administration of Laboratory Animals (China)

In addition to regulatory requirements, we have made further efforts regarding our commitment to animal welfare:

  • Accreditation at 12 animal care sites by AAALAC International
  • Signatory to the U.K. “Concordat on Openness” since its inception in 2014
  • Agreed to The Transparency Agreement for Transparent Information and Open Communication about Animal Research since 2021

Please review our commitment to animal welfare to learn more about how we are dedicated to the establishment and adherence of high standards of care and welfare.

Culture of Care

Culture of Care and Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (3Rs Principles)

Our global animal welfare policy is embedded throughout our organization and in our six commitments to the respectful and humane care and use of animals.

During 2021, Labcorp developed and launched two global training modules aimed at fostering conversations and sharing of best practices among animal care sites. This training collectively supports adherence to our commitments to the respectful and humane care and use of animals in research.

We are focused on the continuous improvement of animal welfare standards globally, and continued advancement of the 3Rs principles of replacement, reduction and refinement helps provide solutions for the global animal care and welfare community. To reflect the importance of those principles, we support the National Center for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), and we leverage the 3Rs principles.

The examples below illustrate our commitment to the 3Rs, through which  we challenge long-held historical drug development paradigms in study design  and execution. Each example demonstrates that we are willing to evolve and lead in study approaches. We are able to achieve 3R successes by working with external organizations (e.g., European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, NC3Rs). Our innovation in animal welfare provides additional benefits for our key stakeholders and welfare champions to positively influence the world’s animal care and welfare external environment.

3Rs Examples:

Helix

Replacement

We expanded our genetic toxicology footprint in the U.K., which will enable us to increase our in vitro capabilities. By broadening study capacity, our investment is creating a sustainable evaluation process rooted in the 3Rs that is adaptable for many different industries’ product development pipelines, from cardiovascular to pulmonary.

By providing options for potency assessment from the in vitro test suite, we are hopeful this expansion will allow us to reduce animal populations in these studies.

Reduction

Reduction

Fish bioconcentration or biomagnification studies are carried out to determine whether substances have the potential to accumulate or concentrate within areas of the body. There are increasing requirements to conduct these studies on a broad variety of pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and crop protection products globally, resulting in the use of significant numbers of fish.

The standard test method requires three groups of fish be exposed to differing concentrations of chemicals (including a control) with up to 100 fish per dose. Following the revision to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development Test Guideline (OECD 305: 2012), and when scientifically justified, there is an option to test one concentration in combination with a control group.

By adopting this approach when scientifically justified, Labcorp reduced the use of fish by over 50% in 2021 versus 2020.

Mice

Refinement

Mice are regularly used in scientific drug development studies. Research into their welfare has established that traditional methods of handling them by the base of their tail may cause unnecessary animal stress. This has led to the development of cooperative handling techniques that involve training mice to enter a tube or walk into a handler’s cupped hands for easier removal from their home cages.

Six Labcorp sites have fully implemented these new “tunnel” and “cupping” techniques during 2021 and implementation is ongoing at an additional three sites with completion targeted in 2022.