Mathers, Dunne, party pills and animal testing

In Question Time today Mojo Mathers asked Peter Dunne about animal testing and party pills. This clarifies the issue.

In The House video: 4.12.12 – Question 11: Mojo Mathers to the Associate Minister of Health

11. Drugs, Psychoactive—Animal Testing

[Sitting date: 04 December 2012. Volume:686;Page:12. Text is subject to correction.]

11. MOJO MATHERS (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: Other than the LD50 test, will he rule out other animal tests for the pending psychoactive substances testing regime?

Hon PETER DUNNE (Associate Minister of Health) : With regard to psychoactive substances, I have directed the Ministry of Health to develop a regulatory regime consistent with international best practice and avoiding animal testing wherever possible. The standards for approval for psychoactive substances will be set by an independent expert committee to be established early next year.

Mojo Mathers: Why is there not a single non-animal testing option included in the Ministry of Health’s testing regime recommendation paper dated March 2012?

Hon PETER DUNNE: There have been a number of alternative options proposed. They are all to be considered by the expert committee. I should make the point that the material that was the subject of the release last week, which got the weekend publicity, was neither ministry advice nor Government policy. They were comments contained in a report from an independent toxicologist.

Mojo Mathers: How does he reconcile that omission with the purpose set out in Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act to “replace animals as subjects for research, and testing by substituting where appropriate, non-sentient or non-living alternatives:”?

Hon PETER DUNNE: I am not attempting to reconcile the two statements for this reason. The material that the member refers to, which was the basis of the publicity at the weekend, was neither official advice to the Ministry of Health nor a statement of Government policy, but a statement by an independent toxicologist. The expert committee that I referred to in my original answer, in developing the standards for approval, will obviously be guided by all relevant pieces of legislation, including the legislation to which the member has referred.

Mojo Mathers: I seek leave to table the Ministry of Health report from March 2012, which outlines the proposed safety testing regime and it is called Regulations governing the control of novel psychoactive drugs defining parameters associated with toxicity.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

  • document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Mojo Mathers: So will he now commission a report into non-animal options for safety testing of new recreational drugs?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Can I repeat for the member’s benefit my original answer. I have directed the Ministry of Health in developing the regulatory regime consistent with international best practice to look at avoiding animal testing wherever possible. As I said earlier, the precise regime will be developed by the independent expert committee, which will be established early next year.

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