Novo Nordisk and the use of non-human primates

Non-human primates are still used as a necessary animal model to evaluate certain drugs for efficacy and safety prior to the testing in humans and to model certain human disease states.

The use of non-human primates as experimental animals, however, is questioned by many people on ethical, welfare and conservation grounds.  Animal welfare organisations around the world advocate an immediate reduction and eventually a global ban on the use of non-human primates as experimental animals due to their high level of development and sentiency and their behavioural and social complexity.

Novo Nordisk’s position

  • Novo Nordisk supports the principle that the use of non-human primates must be clearly justified and that the number used should be kept to an absolute minimum
  • Novo Nordisk supports the principle that all experiments on non-human primates should be thoroughly evaluated, and that non-human primates only should be used if there are no acceptable alternative methods
  • Novo Nordisk acknowledges primates’ high level of development and social nature and supports the principle that special attention should be paid to the housing, training and socialisation of non-human primates
  • Novo Nordisk acknowledges the specific concern about the use of wild-caught primates and supports the proposition that their use is phased out and only purpose-bred non-human primates are used
  • Novo Nordisk supports a general ban on the use of Great apes such as chimpanzees and that these species are only used if specifically requested by regulatory authorities

Novo Nordisk’s use of non-human primates

The efficacy of new drugs must be evaluated in animal models and the safety tested in animals  before drug candidates can be investigated in humans. In the majority of cases the animals will be a rodent eg mice or rats.

Non-human primates are only used when no other acceptable alternative methods exist. Non-human primates are primarily used in the late phases of drug discovery and during development to assess the efficacy and safety of certain new drugs that in their mechanism of action depend on the close relationship of non-human primates and man or when specifically requested by the authorities.

Only a very limited number of non-human primates are used by Novo Nordisk. In those cases in which Novo Nordisk has chosen to use non-human primates, they are primarily Macaques primates, which include the rhesus monkey and the cynomolgus monkey.

All of Novo Nordisk’s experiments on non-human primates are performed by external partners, which are specialised in the use, housing and husbandry of non-human primates. Novo Nordisk works closely with these partners to ensure the highest possible ethical and welfare standards and monitors their performance.