Novo Nordisk and animal experimentation

Experiments on living animals are a necessary part of the discovery and development of new drugs. The use of experimental animals is, however, a source of concern for many people.

We cannot replace all animal experiments in the foreseeable future, but we can continuously refine the care and use of animals and develop procedures that reduce and/or replace animal experiments. Experiments on living animals should only be carried out when no other suitable alternative methods are available and the expected benefits to human should outweigh the costs to the animals.

It is important for Novo Nordisk to act with due respect for the animals by establishing and ensuring high ethical and welfare standards. Novo Nordisk supports transparency and openness about animal experimentation and will continue to report on our use of experimental animals.

Novo Nordisk has for decades focused on a broad stakeholder engagement in relation to animal experimentation and will continue to engage in dialogue and partnerships with key stakeholders such as animal welfare organisations.

Novo Nordisk's position

  • Novo Nordisk supports the principles of the Three Rs (Reduce, Refine and Replace) and is integrating these principles in all our processes and procedures
  • Novo Nordisk supports high ethical standards in relation to animal experimentation and performs an internal ethical review of all new types of experiments on animals
  • Novo Nordisk acknowledges its responsibilities in relation to experiments on living animals carried out by external parties on behalf of Novo Nordisk and supports high ethical and welfare standards at our external partners, contract research organisations and suppliers and monitors their performance
  • Novo Nordisk acknowledges the specific concern about the use of non-human primates and supports that all experiments on non-human primates are thoroughly evaluated and special attention is paid to the housing, training and socialisation as well as the source of non-human primates
  • Novo Nordisk supports high animal welfare standards in relation to the housing, care and use of experimental animals and will house the animals according to their needs, provide appropriate training and socialisation of the animals
  • Novo Nordisk is aware of the specific concern about the use of animal models of human disease including the use of transgenic animals and the importance of considering and minimising the welfare impact on the animals
  • Novo Nordisk supports the principle that experiments on living animals are properly regulated, and that the ethical and welfare aspects of the use of experimental animal are adequately addressed in national and international legislation

Novo Nordisk's use of experimental animals

New drugs need to be investigated in animals for efficacy and safety before they are studied in humans. It is not yet possible to examine the complex interactions in a living organism solely by the use of e.g. cell cultures and tissues.

However, the use of animals in the early phases of our drug discovery and development has been reduced by applying computer simulation, tissue cultures and cell based methods. Novo Nordisk has over the last decade reduced the number of experimental animals due to these improvements in screening methods. Animal experiments are an integral part of our efforts to examine the efficacy and possible side-effects of new drug candidates and the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the compounds before they are investigated in humans. Animals are also used in our research efforts to establish the causes of diseases. Some animal experiments are performed as part of the requirement by the authorities for the product control of selected products.

Novo Nordisk reviews animal models on a continuous basis for replacement with in vitro methods and uses human cells and tissues instead of living animals wherever possible. Novo Nordisk supports and participates in initiatives on the development of valid alternatives to animal experimentation. It is expected that our use of experimental animals needed to develop a drug within a given disease area will continue to decline over the next decades as new emerging technologies will make it possible to obtain even more important information without the use of living animals.



Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen
Executive Vice President
and Chief Science Officer
+45 4442 3988