The Draize Eye Irritancy Test
Note: Information from this article gathered from: http://www.peta.org/mc/factsheet_display.asp?ID=91
The Draize eye irritancy test has been used since 1944. Liquid, flake, granule, and powdered substances are placed into the eyes of rabbits, and then the eyes' progressive deterioration is recorded. The Draize test is responsible for the suffering and death of thousands of rabbits each year in the United States but does not prevent or help cure human injury.
How it is Administered
During the test, 100 milligrams of a concentrated solution are dripped into the eyes of six to nine conscious albino rabbits, who may be immobilized in stocks from which only their heads protrude. Their eyes often are held open with clips at the lid, and rabbits can break their necks or backs struggling to escape. The damage to the rabbits' eyes is recorded at specific intervals over an average period of 72 hours, with the test sometimes lasting 7-18 days. Reactions to the irritants can include swelling of the eyelid, inflammation of the iris, ulceration, hemorrhaging (bleeding), and blindness. Pain-relieving drugs usually are not administered because experimenters claim their use would interfere with test results. If anesthesia is given, the relief is only temporary.
Not Required by Law
The federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act does not require cosmetics manufacturers to test their products for safety, and does not require animal tests. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends, however, that companies substantiate the safety of their products, or else attach a warning label to potentially hazardous products. Many companies therefore continue to perform the Draize test mainly because they are in the habit of using the test, and because their legal departments and insurance companies suggest they do the tests to cover themselves when they are sued. The fact that animal tests have been conducted does not mean the product has then been altered to make it less harmful if misused, so the term "safety testing" is a misnomer.
What Professionals Say
Noted toxicologists and health professionals agree that the Draize test is crude and imprecise because it is strictly observational. No treatment is ever administered nor are any antidotes ever sought.
The opinion of most health professionals is reflected by ophthalmologist Stephen Kaufman, M.D., of New York University Medical Center: "I have no use for Draize test data because the rabbit eye differs from the human eye ... I know of no case in which an ophthalmologist used Draize data to assist in the care of a patient."(1)
Much criticism of the test comes from within the product industry itself. An industry-funded study conducted in 1971 by Weil and Scala of the Mellon Institute of Pittsburgh and the Medical Research Division of Esso showed that the Draize test is not reliable. Conducted in 25 laboratories, the study revealed extreme variations in the way the laboratories evaluated the rabbits' reactions, and concluded, "the procedure should not be recommended as the standard for any new regulations." In February 1986, the industry-funded Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing stated, "The Draize test does not adequately reflect the degree of irritancy in humans."
There Are Alternatives
Animal tests protect companies, not consumers. Knowing that a rabbit goes blind 72 hours after being dosed with dandruff shampoo doesn't help us. We already know not to pour caustic substances into our eyes and leave them there; the pain tells us that. We also already know how dangerous various ingredients are, and we can run computer assays of mixtures of these ingredients to predict irritation levels. Human volunteers are already used by some companies to test for skin irritation; these tests provide much more accurate information than animal-based tests. To treat accidental poisoning victims, physicians can use data collected by hospitals from previous poisoning cases--data that are readily applicable to treating human injury.
In response to
pressure from many animal protection groups, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and
Fragrance Association (CTFA) has contributed $5 million since 1981 toward
research into alternatives to Draize testing--a figure that pales in comparison
to the annual advertising budget of even one of CTFA's member companies. There
is no reason to wait for their research results--many alternative techniques
already are available to reduce and replace animal testing. They include the use
of cell cultures, human and animal corneas from eye banks, corneal tissue
cultures, frozen corneas supplied by hospitals, and the Eytex test.
For more information on alternatives to animal tests, select here
What You Can Do
Consumers can help
prevent the suffering of millions of animals by purchasing
"cruelty-free" products that are not tested on animals. Many of these
products also do not contain animal ingredients. Cruelty-free products can be
made entirely from plant extracts, herbs, flowers, and the many other
ingredients proven to be safe.
Web version: Companies that DO NOT test on animals
To become a
compassionate consumer, please ask for our free list of companies that test on
animals. It will take active and prolonged pressure from consumers to bring
about changes in companies' testing practices. Write and tell companies why you
no longer purchase their products. Get our list of cruelty-free companies and
use it as your shopping guide.
Web version: Companies that DO test on animals
But most of all, share what you know with your family, friends, and neighbors and encourage them to "go cruelty-free," too.
For more on animal testing (vivisection) in general, select here
For more on product testing in general, select here
For a complete list of companies that DO test on animals, select here
For a complete list of companies that DO NOT test on animals, select here
For a fact sheet on charities and animal testing, select here
For a complete list of charities that DO test on animals, select here
For a complete list of charities that DO NOT test on animals, select here
For information on alternatives to animal testing, select here
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