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Perspectives

A More Humane & Effective Way of Conducting Animal Health Research

2018-04-10


More robust next-gen animal management systems can help pharmaceuticals, biotech and device companies work more productively. Here are eight benefits of these systems and the four key challenges of existing systems.

The fact that pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical device and animal health companies use animals throughout drug discovery, medical device and animal health research is not new. What may not be widely known is that these companies also rely on animal management applications to support and track animal use in their research. And they’re looking for more evolved and robust systems — that are easy to implement, use and maintain — to help them enhance efficiencies, reduce costs and comply fully with regulations for humane animal care.

The use of animals in testing is intended for pharma and biotech drugs as well as medical devices, veterinary drugs and vaccines. These therapies ultimately improve the quality of human and animal patients’ lives. It’s therefore important that companies and institutions follow international, national and regional laws and regulations during testing processes.

Follow the 3Rs

To meet regulatory guidelines, many pharma, biotech, medical and animal health companies use animal management systems to capture and document end-to-end data on animals’ activities during their active life span. The main imperative for using animals in preclinical research is to follow and effectively monitor the principles of the 3Rs — reduce, refine and replace. To learn more click on the 3Rs in the interactive graphic below.

Figure 1

Four Significant Challenges 

Significant gaps in current systems have prompted the adoption and evolution of integrated or next-gen animal management systems — including rigidity of systems, outdated technologies, changing regulatory guidelines, etc.

  • Lack of integrated systems. Many organizations still use disjoined or independent systems and applications to cater to core functionalities such as protocol management, animal ordering, census and billing, health management, colony or breeding management. Some of these independent systems use outdated technologies to document and track data; that’s because they are not integrated with other systems that support animal study management, diagnostic systems, balances, environmental monitoring, financial management and training. 

  • Incompatible modules across animal management activities. While conducting preclinical research, health management professionals play many roles, such as principal investigators, researchers, veterinarians and more. Each role, which shares information accurately and communicates effectively, also creates unique user profiles with multiple data entry points and opportunities for inconsistency and duplication. Organizations also use extract-transform-load (ETL) scripts to load base data during the creation of new protocols and arrival of new animals. If one system cannot handle multiple functions and user roles, then ETL’s shortcomings and data-related issues result in unreliable, time-consuming and erroneous systems. 

  • Manual census and a lack of RFID technologies. Animal management systems perform animal census and real-time tracking of animals for billing, room and facility capacity planning and study management. Staff members still manage animal census and movement using manual counting and mapping despite the availability of RFID technologies. Some organizations use barcoding and RFID technologies or different study management and tracking systems. In either case, systems are not tightly coupled, which can lead to incorrect animal location data, erroneous room and facility capacity planning, study schedule delays and a heavy burden on facility personnel inputting and consolidating data from a manual census.

  • Varying regulatory requirements and increased costs. With animal research spread across different geographies, it’s necessary to adhere to international and local guidelines for humanely caring for animals. Disparate standards in countries may mean that each compliance agency uses a different animal management system rather than a global system. This has led to increased application support and maintenance costs and substantial increases in time spent generating regulatory reports.

Eight Benefits of Next-Gen Systems

There are numerous potential benefits that arise from using integrated or next-gen animal management systems to support animal research. Here are eight of them:

Customizable to meet business needs.

Not all organizations, institutions and research programs are alike. Animal management solutions provide comprehensive solutions with inherent configuration features allowing the organization to tailor the application to its business rules and processes.

Reduced operational expenses.

These solutions help reduce time and costs by replacing a variety of legacy systems that are expensive and difficult to maintain.

Uniform, consolidated data.

The system integrates processes and systems and manages activities and information with structured central data management.

Seamless data sharing.

A system will facilitate integration options with various enterprise systems through application programming interfaces (APIs) and web service interfaces and enable seamless data exchange between users, teams and modules by sup- porting easy integration with enterprise-wide directory services (Active Directory, LDAP) and single sign-on services.

Improved compliance.

The structure provided by these systems reduces the risk of non-compliance, provides better information to assist with audits and reduces the administrative burden facing researchers and administrative staff.

Improved efficiency and effectiveness.

The application provides a more efficient system by enabling customized configuration and workflows for different organizational levels and sites. This allows the rapid development of new forms and easy enhancement of existing forms without needing internal program or database changes.

Supports national and international compliance.

These applications typically address global and local needs to ensure compliance with national and international regulations, provide transparency regarding animal availability and usage and proactively support animal welfare, as well as the 3Rs.

Reduced legal and operational risks.

Organizations can avoid legal and operational risks by standardizing and monitoring activities according to legal and company standards and regulations.

Improving Lives

Well-defined, easy-to-use and integrated solutions provide a better return on investment by saving time, optimizing business processes and ensuring regulatory compliance. Most importantly, these systems follow and effectively monitor the principles of the 3Rs for humane animal care, ensuring that the use of animals in testing is worth the ultimate sacrifice to treat diseases and improve human and animals’ lives.

To learn more, read “The Promise of Next-Generation Animal Management Systems" or our related blog on "Bringing Drones to Animal Life;”  visit our Life Sciences practice, or contact us.

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A More Humane & Effective Way of Conducting Animal Health Research Systems