London: Major drug and cosmetics companies have backed a plan to eliminate animal testing in favour of more humane approaches.
Experts from companies like drug giants AstraZeneca, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and cosmetics firm L`Oreal endorsed a Europe-wide initiative described as a road-map towards ending the use of animals in research and safety testing.
The report, which is to be published by a panel of experts from industry, academic institutions and regulatory bodies, provides backing for an initiative aimed at finding alternatives to animal research called "AXLR8".
The report pushes the case for a range of new technologies and approaches that provide alternatives to using animals, reports the Telegraph.
Opponents of vivisection have long argued that animals are poor models for testing drugs and products that will be used by humans as their biology is often different.
Other methods include the use of embryonic stem cells to create heart tissue that can be used for drug testing, robotic screening of drugs and computer programmes that can predict the effect of a drug in the body.
More than 3.6 million tests were carried out on animals in Britain last year. There has been growing concern from within the scientific community at the number of animal research studies that are never published due to unimportant results or poor experimental design.
The report states testing a single chemical takes up to five years, involves 800 rodents and costs £2.5 million while robotic alternatives could test 350 chemicals in under a week and for a fraction of the cost.
Troy Seidle, director of research for Humane Society International and associate coordinator of the AXLR8 initiative, said: "This is the first step towards a road map that will see the phasing out of the use of animals in safety testing.