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Estimates: Community Affairs Legislation Committee (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme)

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 2 Jun 2014

Senator RHIANNON: Dr Richards, can you confirm that NICNAS accepts non-animal test data on cosmetics or their ingredients that are generated in accordance with standard test methods such as the European Commission directive?

Dr Richards : The data requirements for assessing new chemicals by NICNAS are set out in our act and associated regulations. NICNAS's data requirements are largely based on those established by the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sets out a range of guidelines for conducting toxicology tests. The OECD has recognised and formalised test guidelines for a range of toxicological end points which do not involve the use of animals. Where those guidelines are in place and those non-animal tests have been validated, NICNAS accepts those test results in complete substitution for any animal test data. What we look for is data that provide us information on particular toxicology end points, like acute toxicity and repeat dose toxicity, and where non-animal tests have been validated NICNAS accepts those test results.

Senator RHIANNON: If a ban on animal tested cosmetics or their ingredients explicitly does not apply to an ingredient in cosmetics, if the ingredient is a therapeutic good within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act, would NICNAS be satisfied this would mean medicines would not come under the ban on animal tested cosmetics?

Dr Richards : I believe that is a hypothetical question—

Prof. Halton : Which we do not answer.

Dr Richards : and I am not in a position to answer.

Senator RHIANNON: Okay. Can NICNAS confirm if the following fall under the meaning of cosmetics in the IC(NA) Act—and I am just after yes or no answers. Household cleaning products?

Dr Richards : No.

Senator RHIANNON: Veterinary products or animal health products?

Dr Richards : No.

Senator RHIANNON: General industrial chemicals?

Dr Richards : No.

Senator RHIANNON: Food?

Dr Richards : No.

Senator RHIANNON: The industry body Accord Australasia Ltd has circulated material that asserts that NICNAS currently mandates by law that companies provide animal test data for local assessment of new ingredients or existing ingredients under safety review. Does NICNAS mandate by law that companies provide animal test data for local assessment of new ingredients or existing ingredients under safety review?

Dr Richards : I need to be careful in answering that question. NICNAS does not mandate anything by law. Parliament, as I understand it, passes the laws and NICNAS administers the laws as passed by parliament. The IC(NA) Act and associated regulations that have been enacted by the parliament do, at first glance, require certain data to be substantiated by animal testing, but the act also allows companies to apply to NICNAS for a variation of those data requirements and those data requirements are very frequently varied by NICNAS.

I think it is fair to say that NICNAS has never insisted that a company conduct tests on animals in order to provide data. NICNAS assesses a chemical based on the data that are able to be provided by a company. Clearly, if a company cannot provide sufficient data to allow a confident risk assessment to be undertaken then the restrictions that might be recommended by NICNAS to manage the associated uncertainty might be more onerous than conditions that might apply were a risk assessment able to be carried out with more precision.

CHAIR: Last question, Senator Rhiannon.

Senator RHIANNON: I just want him to finish that. Dr Richards, can you just finish that, thank you. Sorry.

Dr Richards : I think I finished it.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you, Dr Richards; that was very helpful..

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