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ILAR J. 2002;43 Suppl:S85-94.

Implementation of the 3Rs (refinement, reduction, and replacement): validation and regulatory acceptance considerations for alternative toxicological test methods.

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National Center for Toxicological Research, US Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland, USA.


Toxicological testing in the current regulatory environment is steeped in a history of using animals to answer questions about the safety of products to which humans are exposed. That history forms the basis for the testing strategies that have evolved to satisfy the needs of the regulatory bodies that render decisions that affect, for the most part, virtually all phases of premarket product development and evaluation and, to a lesser extent, postmarketing surveillance. Only relatively recently have the levels of awareness of, and responsiveness to, animal welfare issues reached current proportions. That paradigm shift, although sluggish, has nevertheless been progressive. New and alternative toxicological methods for hazard evaluation and risk assessment have now been adopted and are being viewed as a means to address those issues in a manner that considers humane treatment of animals yet maintains scientific credibility and preserves the goal of ensuring human safety. To facilitate this transition, regulatory agencies and regulated industry must work together toward improved approaches. They will need assurance that the methods will be reliable and the results comparable with, or better than, those derived from the current classical methods. That confidence will be a function of the scientific validation and resultant acceptance of any given method. In the United States, to fulfill this need, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) and its operational center, the National Toxicology Program Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM), have been constituted as prescribed in federal law. Under this mandate, ICCVAM has developed a process and established criteria for the scientific validation and regulatory acceptance of new and alternative methods. The role of ICCVAM in the validation and acceptance process and the criteria instituted toward that end are described. Also discussed are the participation of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the ICCVAM process and that agency's approach to the application and implementation of ICCVAM-recommended methods.

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