Animals
Animals

How many animals are used in research?

Bayer scientists in 2013 employed 142,084 animals worldwide (2012: 147,315 animals), primarily for the purpose of developing drugs, but also in the development of new veterinary drugs, crop protection agents and industrial chemicals. The majority of laboratory animals are rodents (e.g. rats and mice). In 2013 they made up 95.2 percent of the total; 3.6 percent of the animals were fish and 0.1 percent birds. The total proportion of dogs, cats and non-human primates used in research amounted to 0.6 percent. In comparison to 2012 it is evident that a decrease of animal numbers is achievable. Whether the 3.5 percent reduction is dependent on our projects of the last year or a consequence of our 3Rs policy will be seen in the future. Nonetheless, we will increase our efforts in 3Rs initiatives. We also commission external institutions with conducting some studies, meaning that 30,203 animals (2012: 23,282) were used for Bayer AG in 2013 outside our own research centers. The increase is linked to the fact that specific projects reached the final development phase and we had to perform legally required studies in the US for that purpose.

Progression of laboratory animal numbers at Bayer

Only few alternatives not involving infoanimal studies have been validated and approved by government authorities to date. However, we initially use substitute methods in all areas, and only after they yield promising data do we test substances on laboratory animals. Using this procedure, we have significantly reduced the number of laboratory animals in recent years. Bayer AG was still using as many as 454,000 animals for experimental purposes in 1989, but during the following years this number was reduced continuously. In 2004 we employed 101,431 laboratory animals in Germany, resulting in a 75 percent reduction compared to 1989. With the integration of Bayer-Schering Pharma in 2006 the pharma sector within the Bayer AG almost doubled and during the integration we decided to report only global data for laboratory animals. That means the worldwide change to 142,084 animals (2012: 147,315) is to a bigger part explicable by changed report criteria. During the full report period from 1989 to 2013 mice and rats were the most substantial laboratory animals. It is one result of our policy that the percentage of rats and mice increased from 81 percent in 1994 to more than 95 percent during the last year.

Development of employed animals

This diagram shows the development of laboratory animal numbers within Bayer, beginning in 1989 and depicting the employed species in addition. The columns from 1989 to 2004 represent the numbers of laboratory animals, which were used by Bayer researchers in Germany. In fact, the increase for the year 2009 is explicable by the Bayer-Schering Pharma integration, which almost doubled the pharma sector. Furthermore it was decided in 2007 to report only global data for laboratory animals.

Distribution of laboratory animals by percentage

Percentage distribution of laboratory animals
The great majority of laboratory animals at Bayer are mice and rats, making up 91.1 percent of all animals used. If the 4.1 percent of other rodents (rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs) is added to that, then more than 95 percent of all laboratory animals are rodents. Fish (3.6 percent) and birds (0.1 percent) are used as required by legal regulations in eco-biology or eco-toxicology. Non-human primates (NHP), cats and dogs make up 0.6 percent of our laboratory animals, and the use of these species depends on special reasons. The smallest group is livestock animals, which together make up 0.5 percent.
Which animals are used for which studies?
When selecting the species of animal for a study, mice and rats are generally the species of first choice. Their mammalian bodies are incredibly similar to those of humans in many respects and usually provide a good basis for predicting how, for example, a new active ingredient will react inside the human body. 
 
Other species are used in studies only if sufficiently meaningful results are unlikely to be obtained if rats and mice are used, or when the development of animal health products makes necessary the use of livestock. In safety studies (infotoxicity studies), the authorities almost always demand studies in a non-rodent species (dogs, pigs, primates) as well as in rodents (rats, mice). This requirement is intended to ensure that possible effects or side effects are detected before the product is used in humans for the first time and included in the risk-benefit assessment for the substance. Ultimately, in all studies human safety comes first.

General examples of the use of animal species in research

General examples of the use of animal species in research

Compulsory studies

More than 90 percent of the animal studies conducted by Bayer are required by law. They form the basis for high standards in drug safety and ultimately ensure that we as humans are able to have confidence in today’s drugs.

There are also other animal studies which are not compulsory. These are infofundamental research studies. How do certain processes take place in the body? Which factors play a decisive role in these processes? Animal studies in this area help to provide the basic information we need for developing new types of treatment.

These fundamental studies belong to the category of infoanimal study for which approval is required. In other words, they have to be checked beforehand by the regulatory authorities that they are scientifically sound and ethically justified so that they can ultimately be granted approval. An Animal Welfare Committee made up of scientists and animal welfare experts is on hand to advise the regulatory authorities during this process. As a general rule, all of our animal studies are notified to the authorities and we have to account for the number of animals used in them at the end of the year.
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Last updated: April 24, 2014

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