Animal welfare

Animal studies are a critical aspect of medical research, both for generating new breakthroughs in experimental research and to ensure maximum safety of new treatments before they are used in human subjects. UCB acts as a responsible company in the management of animal welfare, and has taken appropriate steps to ensure that all of its laboratories and research units involved in animal studies adhere to established standards and policies, which are based on the latest scientific findings.

Two UCB research sites in the U.K. and Belgium are conducting animal studies and both have established an Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee, responsible for maintaining the highest animal welfare standards. These committees also review all newly proposed project licenses involving animals, to determine whether the experimental work is necessary, whether the objective of the work can be accomplished without using animals and whether the animal welfare standards to be applied are sufficient to minimize any suffering.

UCB is committed to the responsible and appropriate use of animals in medical research, and complies with all applicable laws, regulations and industry standards.

Research site U.K.

The U.K. research site in Slough is in full compliance with the U.K. Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which includes the EU directive 2010/63/EU. The Home Office’s Animals in Science Regulation Unit regularly visits the site, often unannounced, to ensure that high animal welfare standards are maintained. Wherever possible, we endeavor to replace the use of animals in research with non-animal alternatives, reduce the number of animals required to achieve scientifically robust results and refine procedures to minimize suffering (the 3Rs of replacement, reduction and refinement). UCB is also actively involved with NC3Rs (U.K. National Council for Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research), for example by co-funding a program manager to oversee several 3Rs based projects supporting the pharmaceutical field and by membership of specific projects, often involving other global pharmaceutical companies, to scientifically re-evaluate some of the current toxicology testing strategies and ensure best practice is defined. UCB is also involved in other consortia working either directly or indirectly in support of replacement, reduction and/or refinement of animal use.

UCB is also one of over 100 companies who has signed the U.K. Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. Signatory companies commit to ensuring that members of the public have accurate and up-to-date information about what animal research involves and the role it plays in the overall process of scientific discovery and treatment development, how such research is regulated in the U.K., and what researchers and animal care staff do to try to promote animal care and welfare, reduce animal usage and minimize suffering and harm to the animals.

Research site Belgium

At our Belgian research site located in Braine-l’Alleud, UCB continues to maintain accreditation of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). This private non-profit association promotes the responsible treatment of laboratory animals through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs, and AAALAC accreditation represents a label of quality and of high professionalism in terms of animal care and use. Animals used in studies are housed in optimal environmental conditions where stress is kept at the lowest level possible. AAALAC accreditation also fosters continuous improvement of scientific excellence in animal experimentation and research.

Animals used for research in 2017

Due to the progressive implementation of in silico and in vitro technologies, the number of animals used in research studies by UCB has continuously decreased over the last ten years, with a new 19% decrease in 2017.

A total of 98% of all animals used by UCB researchers and contractors are rodents, with non-human primates, dogs, llamas, and rabbits accounting for the remaining 2%.

Rodents used by UCB researchers (icon)


Of all animals used by UCB researchers and contractors are rodents