Astra Zeneca: new animal testing laws threaten 5,000 jobs

The Swedish government's plans to tighten up animal testing laws threaten over 5,000 research jobs in the country, according to Anglo-Swedish drugs company Astra Zeneca.

“This proposal would mean that we face tougher laws than elsewhere in the EU and the USA,” said the company’s chief veterinarian, Krister Martin.

“The consequence could be that we move somewhere else.”

While much of the testing which used to be performed on animals is now dealt with by computer simulations and cell growth, Astra Zeneca’s labs in Södertälje still carry out research into diseases of the nervous system, like Alzheimers and Multiple Sclerosis.

That means that the number of animals actually used in research has not declined, noted Dagens Nyheter.

“We have become better at ssaving animals until the later parts of projects. But on the other hand we still don’t have good alternatives to animal testing at that stage,” Krister Martin told DN.

Karin Gabrielsson, the chairman of the charity Research without Animal Testing, said that although the government’s proposals were not so strict that they would have much effect, they are a step in the right direction.

“It is important that we in Sweden push forward and dare to move ahead,” she said.

But Astra Zeneca’s Krister Martin argued that the proposals contradict the government’s commercial goals.

“The government has said that they want biotechnology to be one of the industries which grows the most in the future,” he said.

“But if this goes through, we can forget that ambition.”

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Dagens PS