Animal rights protests have had little impact on preclinical services sector say CROs

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Animal rights campaigns failed to hurt preclinical sector
Animal rights campaigns failed to hurt preclinical sector

Related tags: Animal rights

Animal rights protests have not hurt the non-clinical services sector according to leading CROs which say vital drug development work has continued.

In the US​ and EU​, candidate drugs must be tested in animals before they go into trials according to Richard Scrase from Understanding Animal Research (UAR).

He told us “in the UK animals are usually only used after initial screening with cells and tissues.”

While such tests are a legal requirement, the debate about their necessity, validity and ethics continues.

This week, for example, academics and the drug industry​ urged the European Commission (EC) to reject a 1.2m signature petition from the Stop Vivisection European Citizens Initiative​ seeking a ban.


Whether efforts to prevent the use of animals in drug research are successful remains to be seen, but what is clear is that illegal campaigns by animal rights groups have had no impact.

SNBL CEO Thomas Beck declined to comment on campaigns the CRO has endured, but did say “we conduct ethical animal research and that would not change with or without animal rights activists.​”

Andrew Gay from Huntingdon Life Sciences was of a similar opinion, telling us the campaign against his firm had 'very little' impact on its business or staff over the past eight years.

Gay said while the protest attracted attention it did not impact business explaining that “even at the height of the campaign against HLS in the early 2000s we were able to grow our research business in line with the market.”


The leaders of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC)​ protest abandoned their campaign last year citing “Government oppression​,” in a move that ended 15 years of attacks on HLS, its staff and financial backers​.

Gay said: “Governments both Labour and Conservative have been very supportive of life sciences in general over the past 15 years and this included eventually gaining control of the illegal aspects of animal rights activism from the mid-2000s.

He also said “essential and ground-breaking research has still taken place, conducted by committed scientists and technicians, but much of it behind closed doors. Thankfully, now in the UK at least, we are far more open about this research – why and how it’s conducted, and what the benefits are to society.” 

All sectors of the life science research community – academic, industry, government and charity – have been targeted [by animal rights groups] most thankfully far less than HLS and this is not just an issue in the UK, even though it was led by groups here in the early 2000s."

Covance and Charles River Laboratories (CRL), which have both also been targeted by animal rights protestors, declined to comment.

Related topics: Bio Developments, Bio-Outsourcing

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