In a major step to end animal testing, the Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) — India’s highest health advisory board — has recommended a two-year phase out period for the “Draize” tests using rabbits. Devised in 1944, the Draize test is an acute toxicity test for cosmetics.
While the idea is to eventually ban the “cruel” test, the DTAB, for the transition period, has advised that non-animal alternatives may be accepted in place of the previously mandatory animal tests.
The DTAB’s recommendation comes following series of representations made by HSI/ India, People for Animals and other stakeholders, infor-ming the Central Drug Standard Control Organi-sation and the Drug Controller General (India) about internationally recognised alternatives.
“The idea is to stop cruelty against animals and we are moving in the same direction. There are other alternatives available, so it was decided to switch to those alternatives till the time Draize test is totally banned,” said G.N. Singh, Drug Controller General of India.
Developed over 70 years ago, the Draize test is conducted to measure eye and skin irritation using rabbits, who are restrained while a test chemical is applied to one eye or to the shaved skin on their back. During the tests, the rabbits are monitored for up to two weeks, without pa-in relief, for signs of che-mical damage, which can include swelling, ulceration and blindness.
Ironically, in addition to the obvious cruelty, the Draize test is not reliable or relevant to humans. On the contrary there are a variety of validated and internationally recognized non-animal alternatives, including reconstructed human skin and corneal tissues, that have been available for years.
“The Drug Technical Advisory Board’s recommendation to phase out the cruel Draize test is a step in the right direction,” said Gauri Maul-ekhi, government affairs liaison for HSI/ India and PFA trustee. “However, an immediate ban would have been a more appropriate respon-se to companies that have for years smugly disregarded the ever-growing toolbox of non-animal testing methods,” she added.