Cute Little Bunnies No Longer Have To Die For Your Lube

A personal lubricant maker's struggle with the FDA to avoid animal testing results in a half victory

Jun 09, 2017 at 1:20 PM ET

Good news from the FDA — bunny rabbits and guinea pigs no longer have to die in the name of bettering your sex life. After a long battle, Good Clean Love says it’s become the first company to get approval for a personal lubricant without several rounds of animal testing. It’s the only time the regulator has given the thumbs-up to a lube that has undergone just a single round of animal testing with mice.

“The idea that I would kill five guinea pigs to prove what I do is safe is the most insane thing in the world,” said Wendy Strgar, CEO and founder of Good Clean Love. “That makes me sick and I was doing everything I could to not participate in that system.”

It’s only recently that lube companies, which previously saw their products regulated as a cosmetic, even needed FDA clearance. In 2015, the FDA began notifying companies that they needed 510(k) clearance, which requires animal testing, and seizing shipments of non-approved lubes. This animal testing involves injecting lube into rabbits’ vaginas, under guinea pigs’ skin, and into the bellies of mice — after which the critters are killed and dissected.

More Should The FDA Require Animal Testing For Your Lube?

Around that time, Strgar teamed up with animals rights group PETA to try to convince the FDA to give one of her lubes the OK with a test-tube experiment using human cells to test for vaginal irritation — but this substitute for animal testing was rejected. So she funded $50,000 worth of animal testing to get official clearance for her product. When she sought approval for a second lube, BioPhresh Restore, she put up another fight. This time, she funded research using what’s known as a human patch test — the lubricant is put on a person’s skin and left there to check for irritation.

The FDA accepted this substitute, but required she still conduct one test on mice, according to Strgar and PETA. A spokesperson for the FDA would not confirm the details of the approval process, however. This meant she was able to get approval with just one animal test. It’s not the elimination of animal testing that she hoped for, but it’s progress. “To whatever degree we move the ball one inch, a quarter of an inch, then you gotta feel good that you’re at least contributing to progress,” she said.

In theory, this means that companies don’t have to inject lube into a whole bunch of cute little animals just to lubricate your love life. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t. It just means that, in theory, they aren’t required to in order to get FDA approval. As Strgar put it, “When somebody breaks through the FDA with a different way to do it then everybody has the right to do it.”