Research involving animals helps to enhance our understanding of human, animal and environmental health and biology. It raises many complex issues for example, ethics, animal welfare, transparency, reproducibility and translation.
The European Union Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes was issued to ensure harmonised standards of animal welfare across the EU, whilst maintaining Europe's place as a world leader in scientific research. This legislation was transposed into Irish law in December 2012 by SI No 543 of 2012 and is implemented by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the competent authority in Ireland responsible for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.
It is important to ensure the principles embedded in the legal text are implemented in practice. In particular, the Directive imposes a clear and explicit obligation on licensed researchers to ensure that the opportunities for reduction, replacement and refinement of animal involvement (See principles of the 3Rs - Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are intrinsic to their work. Researchers are expected to adhere to the general principles and best practice outlined in the guidance provided by the HPRA and are advised to consult the ARRIVE guidelines (Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments) produced by the UK National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).