On August 1, APA responded to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Request for Information on Flexibilities for Conducting Semiannual Animal Program Review [NOT-OD-22-114]. In the comments (PDF, 191KB), the association offers support for NIH efforts to review regulations and policies for the care and use of laboratory animals to look for ways to reduce the administrative burden on researchers, while ensuring the humane care and use of animals. APA urged NIH to continue to think more broadly about the development of new flexibilities, as the agency continues to carry out the mandate from the 21st Century Cures Act (2016) to reduce administrative burdens on researchers where possible.
APA supported most of the flexibilities NIH outlined. Writing for the association, Mitch Prinstein, PhD, chief science officer, responded, “APA is particularly supportive of removing the review of SOPs from semi-annual review. Reviewing these fixed procedures twice per year is highly redundant, and any proposed deviations from SOPs by investigators are reviewed on a case-by-case basis at monthly review by full IACUC committees.”
APA raised a concern about one item. NIH wrote that program reviews that do not involve Animal Welfare Act-regulated species, a minimum of one individual may be used to conduct program review. This individual need not be an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) member, but they must have a working knowledge of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Prinstein said, “The threshold for the designation of a ‘qualified individual’ seems low. At the very least, a scientist with IACUC experience or a research-accredited veterinarian should perform this task if it is done independently.”
APA’s Committee on Animal Research Ethics reviewed the request for information and made recommendations to inform APA’s response. The association continues to support efforts to improve laboratory animal welfare through the implementation of policies and regulations that both maintain the integrity of the scientific research and sustain the welfare of such animals.
For more information, contact Pat Kobor.