Issue 2, 2015

Quantifying the pharmaceutical industry's contribution to published 3Rs research 2002–2012


This project explored the impact of the pharmaceutical industry's contribution to published papers relevant to the 3Rs (reduction, refinement and replacement of the use of animals in research) nearly half a century after the publication of the Principles of Humane Experimental Technique (Russell and Birch 1959). Specifically, the PubMed database was used to search for all papers with an explicit 3Rs objective that were published during the years 2002, 2007 and 2012. Overall, 433 papers with a 3Rs objective were identified in the 3 time periods analysed; there was little change in the total number of published papers in the first two time periods tested (2002, 2007) but this was followed by a substantial (55%) rise in the latter time period (2012). Within this total of 433 papers, the number of published 3Rs papers with industry involvement increased from 20 (2002) through 30 (2007) to 39 (2012). Additionally, the proportion of 3Rs papers involving academia and industry collaboration increased from 40% in 2002 to 61.5% in 2012; the number of multiple affiliation papers also rose during the time period. Other notable trends were the increase in contract research organisation (CRO) involvement in 3Rs research and a slight increase (10%) in the latter time period in those papers describing and presenting original data rather than review/discussion papers. In summary, the reduction, refinement and replacement of animal testing in pharmaceutical drug development depends upon continued and increased collaboration; the data reported herein clearly demonstrate an increased contribution by the pharmaceutical industry to the 3Rs objective along with increasing collaborative efforts between industry and academic institutions.

Graphical abstract: Quantifying the pharmaceutical industry's contribution to published 3Rs research 2002–2012

Article information

Article type
26 Aug 2014
13 Nov 2014
First published
18 Nov 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY-NC license

Toxicol. Res., 2015,4, 311-316

Author version available