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New norms for clinical trials on animals

Last updated on: September 06, 2004 12:54 IST

Watch out before putting that beagle on the treadmill. The government is planning to introduce norms to regulate the use of animals for clinical trials by pharma companies.

This is the first time India is trying to bring the issue of animal testing under a regulatory framework.

The ministry of environment and forests will issue a notification on the use of animals for clinical tests by pharmaceutical companies in a month's time.

A 15-member committee headed by the secretary, environment ministry, Pradipto Ghosh and consisting of animal rights activists and scientists has agreed on a set of guidelines for using animals in trials.

The notification will address pertinent issues relating to animal testing like what animals can be used, how many and for what tests these animal can be put through.

Ghosh said the notification would also address issues relating to the care of these animals post-tests.

"Some animal rights activists believe that after tests, these animal are not taken care of. We will be addressing this issue too in the notification." The notification is also expected to include guidelines for the import of animals for testing purposes.

Ghosh said a Cabinet approval might be needed for this notification. "We hope to get all clearances in a month." he said.

The earlier government under the then Environment Minister Maneka Gandhi had brought the issue of animal testing under strict government vigil.

A source in the Indian pharmaceutical industry said, "We are now forced to conduct pre-phase tests abroad at 10 times the cost of what can be done within India using better scientists."

The new guidelines for import of animals for testing purpose is not expected to witness a surge in the number of animals imported.

"There are only six or seven large companies that do these tests. But a few years from now, when the number of R&D companies increase manifold, there could be a surge in the import of animals for testing."
S Kalyana Ramanathan in New Delhi