Stages of drug (and vaccine) discovery and evaluation that involve laboratory animals increasingly occur via scientific collaborations across national borders and continents. Many of these research collaborations are between asset-rich institutions and others in less wealthy parts of the world. The care and use of laboratory animals in geographically disparate locations introduces new complexities, such as different oversight requirements and available resources, as well as diverse organizational and cultural milieus. These complexities can hamper the effectiveness of local animal welfare committees and regulatory compliance, as well as compromise good science and animal welfare. At the same time, new technologies are becoming available that offer greater transparency in how these collaborations and their animal subjects are faring in real time that, in turn, can enable progress towards the 3 Rs. The focus of this essay is to identify potential rewards and risks stemming from new techniques for producing and connecting data in preclinical pharmaceutical development and consider how further social scientific investigations have the potential to enhance the benefits of international research collaborations for both human health and animal welfare.

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