Collaboration with ICATM

On April 27, 2009, representatives from four international agencies signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) establishing an International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM). The agreement promotes enhanced international cooperation and coordination on the scientific validation of non- and reduced-animal toxicity testing methods. If the toxicity testing methods are shown to be reproducible based on strong scientific information, and able to accurately identify product related health hazards, the tests are more readily accepted by regulatory agencies.


An updated MOC including the Korean Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods (KoCVAM) to the ICATM agreement was signed in March 2011:

At their first meeting in September 2007, the ICCR recognized the importance of reducing, refining, and replacing animals used in toxicity testing. The group recommended that collaboration and communication in the design, execution, and peer review of validation studies for scientific alternatives to animal testing be further strengthened. In response to ICCR, ICCVAM and NICEATM, ECVAM, JaCVAM, and Health Canada developed a framework to ensure a collaborative approach to this issue, and noted that such efforts should be supported by scientific experts from the regulatory bodies.

The framework for ICATM was developed through a collaboration involving ICCVAM, ECVAM, JaCVAM, and Health Canada. The goals of this framework are:

  • To establish international cooperation in the critical areas of validation studies, independent peer review, and development of harmonized recommendations to ensure that alternative methods/strategies are more readily accepted worldwide
  • To establish international cooperation necessary to ensure that new alternative test methods/strategies adopted for regulatory use will provide equivalent or improved protection for people, animals, and the environment, while replacing, reducing or refining (causing less pain and distress) animal use whenever scientifically feasible

The purpose of the framework is to promote consistent and enhanced voluntary international cooperation, collaboration, and communication among national validation organizations in order to:

  • Ensure the optimal design and conduct of validation studies that will support national and international regulatory decisions on the usefulness and limitations of alternative methods proposed for regulatory testing
  • Ensure high quality independent scientific peer reviews of alternative test methods, and consistency in transparency and stakeholder involvement
  • Enhance the likelihood of harmonized recommendations by validation organizations on the usefulness and limitations of alternative test methods for regulatory testing purposes
  • Achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness by avoiding duplication of effort and leveraging limited resources
  • Support the timely international adoption of alternative methods

The framework addresses three critical areas of cooperation: validation studies, independent peer review of the validation of test methods, and the development of formal test method recommendations on alternative testing methods.

The ICCVAM Authorization Act of 2000 (pdf icon) charges ICCVAM with facilitating appropriate international harmonization of toxicological test protocols that encourage the reduction, refinement, or replacement of animal test methods. This is accomplished via ICCVAM’s interactions with international validation organizations such as ECVAM and JaCVAM. Collaborations among these groups have existed and have steadily increased for over ten years. Prior to ICATM, however, coordination of interactions occurred on an ad hoc informal basis.