How We Put Our Beliefs Into Action

Over the past 30 years, we’ve established and maintained a corporate culture that makes animal welfare a top priority. From our commitment to the 3Rs to our careful adherence to government regulations, we strive every day to make sure we treat our research animals humanely and with respect.

We continue to develop and implement technologies that advance our commitment to innovation and the 3Rs:


Proper and humane care for research animals is not just the right thing to do, it’s also fundamental to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of new medicines that improve and save the lives of people and animals all over the world.

We’ve taken meaningful steps toward building and maintaining a corporate culture that makes animal welfare a top priority.

  • Our Global Animal Welfare Organization, led by our vice president of animal welfare and comparative medicine sets, implements and monitors global animal welfare standards at Covance. This team conducts regular audits of all our animal facilities and vendors. 

  • Our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees and other animal welfare review boards include veterinarians, scientists, members of our professional staff and at least one member of the public. These teams consider whether a study is necessary, and whether animals need to be involved.  They then review and approve or make changes to study designs before any research can begin. They also periodically review Covance’s animal care and use program, inspect our research facilities, and investigate any animal welfare concerns.

  • Once every three years, we submit a comprehensive program description to the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) that details our policies, animal housing and management, veterinary care and facilities. AAALAC representatives then conduct thorough onsite assessments, and their findings are further evaluated by the AAALAC Council on Accreditation. All 10 Covance biomedical research sites are accredited by AAALAC.

We constantly strive to improve the range of in vitro testing as an alternative to animal research, and we work with organizations and agencies all over the world, including The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) and others that promote alternative in vitro testing.  At all our research and development sites, we offer in vitro testing from the Discovery phase through to the Pre-Clinical phase of the drug development process. Computer modeling and in vitro, or cell-based, testing can help us distill the plethora of possible compounds down to those few with the best chance of helping patients. Wherever possible, we promote the routine use of in vitro testing and have already replaced some animal testing with in vitro methods.

Whether you are a Covance partner, private citizen or public official, you want to be assured that we are open about our commitment to respectful and caring treatment of research animals.

Transparency about the use and treatment of animals in our care is critical to our relationships with others in the scientific community.

Covance is among the more than 70 original signers of the United Kingdom’s Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. These include pharmaceutical companies, universities, contract research organizations, nonprofit associations, and related organizations. We are committed to abiding by the Concordat’s guidelines and fulfilling its four commitments to enhance our communications about our use of animals.

Myth: Dogs and primates are the animals used most often in drug testing.

Fact: More than 95 percent of the animals used in basic biomedical research are mice and rats.* Rats are the most frequently used species to test the safety of new medicines, although government regulations require some testing in non-rodent species.

Minipigs are beginning to replace the use of dogs in some types of research. Most research primates are macaques or marmosets, and these are used in relatively small numbers—about 0.05 percent of studies—helping enable many important medical advances such as the polio vaccine and life support systems for premature babies. The website Understanding Animal Research has more information about research using primates.


* The Foundation for Biomedical Research:

All animals used at Covance are “purpose-bred” specifically for research. Our team of veterinarians audits the suppliers on a regular basis to help ensure humane treatment and infection-free mandates are upheld to eliminate factors that could alter the outcome of the research conducted.