Today member organizations of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) are holding a Day of Action in 16 countries across Europe to call upon UK based company Ipsen and German based company Merz, to stop using mice in cruel poisoning tests for their botulinum toxin products.
In 2009, a BUAV investigation in the UK at Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire uncovered the appalling suffering inflicted on thousands of mice every year for the batch release of Ipsen's product Dysport®.
The animal test used is the archaic poisoning test LD50 (lethal dose 50 - this is the dose at which 50% of the mice would be expected to die when injected with the toxin), one of the cruellest and most controversial tests carried out on animals.
The test involves injecting mice in the abdomen with the botulinum toxin (botox). Within hours, signs of poisoning start to show - many mice have difficulties walking. Many also suffer increasing paralysis and difficulty breathing and then, if left unattended, will eventually suffocate to death. The level of suffering is appalling. No pain relief is given to the mice.
Although used for medical purposes, the bacterial poison, botulinum toxin, is best known for its cosmetic use to temporarily reduce facial lines and wrinkles. Every year hundreds of thousands of mice are used in cruel experiments world-wide to test this substance.
Only recently the U.S based company Allergan received the approval of US and European agencies for the use of a non-animal cell test method for its botulinum toxn products. Allergan has shown that it is possible to replace the cruel mouse bioasssay. Our Europe-wide Day of Action has been called to urge the other companies manufacturing botulinum toxin products, including Ipsen and Merz to follow Allergan's lead and adopt non-animal testing methods.
Animal protection organisations from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the UK are participating in the Day of Action.
In the UK, Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley, Chrissie Hynde, Joss Stone and Lucy Davis have all supported the BUAV campaign to end the cruelty and suffering inflicted on mice for botox products.
This week, Mike Hancock MP, tabled a Parliamentary Question about botulinum toxin testing. He told the BUAV:
"It's incredibly disappointing that the Home Office still allows mice to be used in cruel tests for botulinum toxin for use in products such as botox, something widely regarded as a cosmetic product. With a cell-based alternative already being successfully used elsewhere, it is time for the UK to act and prevent thousands of animals suffering and dying needlessly."
Michelle Thew, Chief Executive BUAV states: "It is totally unacceptable that this cruel test continues to be carried out, despite the existence and EU approval of a non-animal alternative testing method. We urge the authorities and companies, Merz and Ipsen to act, so that animal testing for botox becomes a thing of the past.”