As a manufacturer of medical devices, Medtronic is required to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of its products to regulatory authorities worldwide. In many cases, these authorities prescribe animal research as the only means to provide information they accept as valid. As a result, Medtronic scientists involve animals in research when necessary to help the company better understand the use of medical technology to treat certain chronic diseases.
When required to use animals in its research efforts, Medtronic is focused on:
Medtronic is committed to the highest standards of respectful, humane care of animals. Research by the company conforms to, or exceeds, standards and principles set by federal and international authorities and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Medtronic’s licensed veterinarians. As required by the regulations, Medtronic established a multi-discipline ethics committee that reviews all internal protocols and conducts regular facility inspections. Our research environment is also accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), which regularly conducts on-site reviews of our practices and protocols. We also hold vendors and service providers to the same ethical and quality standards we apply to ourselves.
Our mission to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life requires the highest level of care for patients, which in turn demands providing uncompromised training for healthcare professionals, as innovative therapies and products advance medical care. Whenever possible, inanimate methods and models are used for training purposes, including the development of novel simulation systems, the use of tissue models, and extensive didactic instruction. Medtronic continuously evaluates new alternatives to the use of animals in training. However, because safe and effective use of medical technologies by healthcare professionals cannot always be adequately addressed through alternatives, it is not currently feasible to completely eliminate our use of animals for training of healthcare professionals. When the use of an animal is required for training due to the lack of appropriate alternatives, Medtronic follows the same rigorous ethical and quality standards that it follows for animals used in research.
Finding alternatives to animal use has been our practice for more than 30 years, and we continue to focus on finding ways to replace and reduce the use of animals with technological advances such as computer modeling, animation and simulation. Medtronic pioneered the use of computer models and simulators to test the detailed algorithms programmed into cardiovascular devices. We also use a series of computer simulation systems and non-animal models for training on the placement and handling of new cardiac pacing leads and delivery catheters.
As we continue to pursue the research and development of innovative medical products, we remain committed to the three principles of replacement, reduction and refinement as it relates to all decisions involving the use of animals in research, education and other training matters.