severity classification

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Severity classification of surgical procedures and application of health monitoring strategies in animal research proposals: A retrospective review

Kathrin Herrmann and Paul Flecknell

Animal experimentation has been one of the most controversial areas of animal use, mainly due to the intentional harms inflicted upon the animals used. In an effort to reduce these harms, research on refinement has increased significantly over the past 20 years. However, the extent to which these efforts have helped to reduce the severity of the research procedures, and thus animal suffering, is uncertain. To provide an indication of the awareness and implementation of refinement methods, we reviewed the experimental techniques for 684 surgical interventions described in 506 animal research applications that had been sent to the German competent authorities for approval in 2010. In this paper, we describe and discuss the severity categorisation of the proposed surgeries and the planned health monitoring strategies. We found that the researchers frequently underestimated the levels of pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm that were to be inflicted on the animals. Furthermore, the planned health monitoring strategies were generally flawed. To ensure responsible treatment of animals and high-quality science, adequate training of research workers in recognising and alleviating animal suffering is essential.

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Ethical Review of Projects Involving Non-human Primates Funded Under the European Union’s 7th Research Framework Programme

Ursula G. Sauer, Barry Phillips, Kirsty Reid, Véronique Schmit and Maggy Jennings

Internet searches were performed on projects involving non-human primates (‘primates’) funded under the European Union (EU) 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7), to determine how project proposals are assessed from an ethical point of view. Due to the incompleteness of the information publicly available, the types and severity of the experiments could not be determined with certainty, although in some projects the level of harm was considered to be ‘severe’. Information was scarce regarding the numbers of primates, their sourcing, housing, care and fate, or the application of the Three Rs within projects. Project grant holders and the relevant Commission officer were consulted about their experiences with the FP7 ethics review process. Overall, it was seen as meaningful and beneficial, but some concerns were also noted. Ethical follow-up during project performance and upon completion was recognised as a valuable tool in ensuring that animal welfare requirements were adequately addressed. Based upon the outcome of the survey, recommendations are presented on how to strengthen the ethical review process under the upcoming Framework Programme ‘Horizon 2020’, while adequately taking into account the specific requirements of Directive 2010/63/EU, with the aim of limiting the harms inflicted on the animals and the numbers used, and ultimately, replacing the use of primates altogether.

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