Responsible use of animals

We recognise that not all research using animals can be replaced in the foreseeable future and consider it our responsibility to actively support the principles of the 3Rs (Reduce, Refine and Replace research using animals, Professor William Russell and Rex Burch, 1959) internally and externally.

In 2015 Novo Nordisk established a new, centralised strategic department contributing to internal awareness and education as well as ensure continued integration of the 3R considerations in R&D’s decision-making processes. Furthermore, the department engages in dialogues and partnerships with our key stakeholders.

Animal welfare is a high priority

“It is far more satisfying to work with animals when we have the possibilities and means to take proper care of them. Sometimes the welfare initiatives we provide the animals with mean more work and efforts for my colleagues and I: but the joy of experiencing how the animals are playing and socialising fully compensates for this.”

Martin Carlsen, Animal caretaker at Novo Nordisk
LinkedIn profile

Martin Carlsen

When animals are used their welfare is given high priority and attention in several ways. Not only when they are being tested, but also when they are housed.

Novo Nordisk’s state-of-the-art housing standards consider the physiological and ethological (behavioural) needs of the animals. We have successfully been able to implement the standards for all animals housed at our facilities.

The design of our renovated facilities was made in close collaboration with The Danish Animal Welfare Society and with valuable input from many internationally recognised experts within animal welfare, as well as input from the employees working every day with the animals, especially the animal caretakers.

Housing facilities for animals at Novo Nordisk

See what the housing facilities look like for animals used for research purposes at Novo Nordisk.


Mice (1:30)



Guinea pigs (1:39)



Pigs outdoors (1:07)



Dogs indoors - 1 (0:43)

Rats (1:06)



Rabbits (1:32)



Pigs indoors (1:19)



Dogs indoors - 2 (0:50)

Ethical review of animal studies

“At Novo Nordisk, we do our utmost to assure that animal welfare is focus for everyone working with animal experimentation. The ethical considerations permeate the organisation and we have a strong dialogue between the Ethical Review Council, the scientists and our collaborators leading to constant improvements and knowledge sharing.”

SAQ New portrait Ethical review

Thomas Bertelsen
Chair, Ethical Review Council,
Novo Nordisk

Animals at external contractors

Jan Ottesen

“We use external contractors to gain access to expert knowledge and research techniques that we do not have in-house, and when we do not have the necessary capacity to perform the animal studies that our scientists are asking for in-house. We only use professional contractors that live up to our global standards for animal welfare.”

Jan Lund Ottesen (DVM, PhD, dipECLAM),
Vice President of Laboratory Animal Science,
Novo Nordisk
LinkedIn profile



Novo Nordisk collaborates with a number of external contractors that perform animal studies on our behalf. Novo Nordisk makes sure that all external contractors comply with Novo Nordisk principles on the use of animals and the guidelines for good animal welfare from the Council of Europe.

We require that our external contractors both within the EU and outside the EU live up to our global standards – now part of the EU directive on animal welfare in studies. This has led to collaborations resulting in improved conditions at several external contractors. It is our belief that collaboration, dialogue and inspiration are the best ways to facilitate improvements.

Internal 3R award

The Novo Nordisk 3R Award is given to employees who contribute to bringing Novo Nordisk's commitment to the 'Reduction, Refinement or Replacement' (3Rs) principles into action. The award was established to recognise employees who improve the conditions for animals used in research and to emphasise the importance of a constant focus on animal welfare.

At the award ceremony, employees share and exchange ideas. This year the audience selected the winning project. All employees in research and development are encouraged to participate.

There is a short movie from the 2018 3R award to the right.

2019 nominees

You can find the 2019 nominees' abstracts concerning different animal categories below. In agreement with their authors, the abstracts are published herein to provide examples of Novo Nordisk 3R initiatives taking place each year. The abstracts include views of the individual authors, and do not represent Novo Nordisk's position.


Animals pharmaceutical

Animals in pharmaceutical research and development

Download our brochure about animals in research and development.