Once animal testing was the only safe and reliable method to check the toxicity of drugs and microorganisms. After the Elixir Sulfanilamide scandal of 1937, the congress bound manufactures to test substances that are about to enter the market on animals. Today we have sophisticated tests that do not involve animals in all that dirty work. We consider animal testing cruel and expensive, though ethical concerns usually take over.
Alternatives to animal testing include in vitro tests on human cells and tissues as well as in silico computer-modeled tests. Studies with human volunteers are also common, however, not all substances can be tested like that. Harvard’s Wyss Institute has developed “organs-on-chips” testing that provides human cells that react like human organs and tissues. 3-dimensional human cell-derived skin models replicate the response of human skin. It allows to clearly detect allergy and irritation caused by cosmetics. The European Union Reference Laboratory has developed 5 different blood tests that detect dangerous substances in drugs. Organizations such as PETA promote and fund the development of non-animal testing alternatives.