Driving the pursuit of life-changing treatments

“For a long time to come we will need to use animals for scientific purposes. It is an important goal to ensure that the animals do not suffer unnecessarily, and that is why we have guidelines for how the animals are to be treated - also when they are not being tested, which is 99% of the lifetime of the animals.”

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen
Executive Vice President
Chief Science Officer

obesity thomsen

At present, it is not possible to examine the complex interactions in a living organism solely by the use of for instance cell cultures and tissues. Hence, research using living animals is essential for all pharmaceutical companies in the discovery, development and production of new pharmaceutical and medical products.?

Drug candidate testing in living animals is a requirement before they can be tested in humans and the authorities require efficacy, safety and toxicology data from both animal and human testing before approval of a new product. The use of experimental animals is, however, a source of concern for many people.

animal housing

Use of laboratory animals

Novo Nordisk's position on animal experimentation

1 Reduce, Refine and Replace?
Novo Nordisk supports the principles of the Three Rs (Reduce, Refine and Replace) and is integrating these principles in all our processes and procedures
2 Internal ethical standards?

Novo Nordisk supports high ethical standards in relation to animal experimentation and performs an internal ethical review of all new types of experiments on animals

3 External ethical standards?
Novo Nordisk acknowledges its responsibilities in relation to experiments on living animals carried out by external parties on behalf of Novo Nordisk and supports high ethical and welfare standards at our external partners, contract research organisations and suppliers and monitors their performance

4 Use of non-human primates?
Novo Nordisk acknowledges the specific concern about the use of non-human primates and supports that all experiments on non-human primates are thoroughly evaluated and special attention is paid to the housing, training and socialisation as well as the source of non-human primates

5 High animal welfare standards?
Novo Nordisk supports high animal welfare standards in relation to the housing, care and use of experimental animals and will house the animals according to their needs, provide appropriate training and socialisation of the animals
6 Use of animal models?

Novo Nordisk is aware of the specific concern about the use of animal models of human disease including the use of transgenic animals and the importance of considering and minimising the welfare impact on the animals

7 Experiments on living animals?
Novo Nordisk supports the principle that experiments on living animals are properly regulated, and that the ethical and welfare aspects of the use of experimental animal are adequately addressed in national and international legislation

Non-human primates in research

The use of non-human primates in research is questioned by many people on ethical, welfare and conservation grounds. Non-human primates are used as a necessary animal model to evaluate certain drugs for efficacy and safety prior to the testing in humans and to model certain human disease states.



Novo Nordisk's position on non-human primates in research

1 Novo Nordisk supports the principle that the use of non-human primates must be clearly justified and that the number used should be kept to an absolute minimum

2 Novo Nordisk supports the principle that all experiments on non-human primates should be thoroughly evaluated, and that non-human primates only should be used if there are no acceptable alternative methods

3 Novo Nordisk acknowledges primates’ high level of development and social nature and supports the principle that special attention should be paid to the housing, training and socialisation of non-human primates requested by regulatory authorities

4 Novo Nordisk acknowledges the specific concern about the use of wild-caught primates and supports the proposition that their use is phased out and only purpose-bred non-human primates are used

5 Novo Nordisk supports a general ban on the use of Great apes such as chimpanzees and that these species are only used if specifically requested by regulatory authorities

Our principles for the use of animals

Number of animals purchased

At Novo Nordisk records are kept updated on the type of experiment, animal species and number of animals used either in-house or by external contractors in accordance with the authorities’ and the requirements of Novo Nordisk. While we strive to keep the number of experimental animals to a minimum, the number of animals purchased each year by Novo Nordisk fluctuates due to different research activities in the R&D pipeline.

For full transparency, the number of purchased animals are documented below as well as published in the annual Novo Nordisk Report.



Number of animals purchased from 2016 to 2019

animals purchased 2015 - 2018

Number of animals purchased from 2000 to 2019

Graph - Number of animals purchased from 2000 to 2018

Animals pharmaceutical

Animals in pharmaceutical research and development

Download our brochure about animals in research and development.