Refining tools to bridge the gap between academia and chemical regulation: perspectives for WikiREACH†
Regulatory hazard and risk assessments of chemical substances have to include all reliable and relevant data to be credible and complete. However, screening the literature for appropriate studies and extracting data is burdensome. Therefore, reducing impediments by making data easily and readily accessible to risk assessors could result in more comprehensive hazard and risk assessments. In this paper, we study WikiPharma, a database that aggregates ecotoxicity data for pharmaceuticals, extracted from peer-reviewed studies. The use of the WikiPharma database is explored to develop strategies on how similar tools can bridge between science and policy by providing risk assessors with easily accessible summary data. Specifically, adapting the concept of WikiPharma to industrial chemicals regulated under the REACH regulation is discussed. Experiences with WikiPharma show that there is interest in using peer-reviewed studies in regulatory decision-making. However, tools like WikiPharma require constant updates. Hence, as for “WikiREACH”, effective incentives are needed to motivate researchers to feed in relevant data for regulatory assessments. Besides, support by automated processes can aid in the labour-intensive activity of gathering data. To ensure that such a tool is continuously maintained and compatible with the regulatory system, and thereby useful for hazard and risk assessments of chemicals, it would benefit from being developed in collaboration with the major stakeholders in the field, i.e. regulatory agencies, academia, industry, scientific journals, and providers of research network platforms.