THE European Union licensing system for veterinary medicines is time-consuming, inefficient and costly and needs to be completely overhauled, according to the representative body for the European animal health industry.
Declan O’Brien, director of the Brussels-based International Federation for Animal Health (IFAH), said the system where medicines are separately assessed and only authorised in each member state must come to an end.
Addressing a conference run by the Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA) in Dublin yesterday, he said that where an application for a license for a veterinary medicine is authorised in one member state, this authorisation should apply across all member states.
He said this overhaul of the licensing system would stimulate innovation, reduce time and cost in getting medicines to the market and create a level playing pitch for all stakeholders.
It would also lead to greater availability of medicines in smaller countries such as Ireland.
Mr O’Brien said the European animal health sector will be pressing for this new system to be taken on board as part of the review of animal medicines legislation which gets under way next year. He also gave details of a new coding system for animal medicines which will involve a complete electronic tracing system from manufacture through wholesaler and retailer to veterinary practitioners and farmers.
“This will save time, reduce the risk of human error and lead to complete traceability to the animal that was administered the medicine,” he said.
The conference was also told that use of vaccines to prevent disease in cattle, sheep and pigs has increased by 65% in the four years since July 2005.
Denise Roche of dmrkynetec, which monitors usage of animal medicines in Ireland and other countries, said in the 12 months period to the end of July last, the use of vaccines in cattle, sheep and pigs increased by 7%, with cattle vaccines increasing by 4.5%.
During the same period the use of antibiotics dropped by almost 3%. Overall usage of medicines in farm animals remained static during the past 12 months.
APHA animal health division chairman Joe Broderick said the continuing switch by farmers towards preventative medicine at the expense of antibiotics is a major boost to Ireland’s animal health status and can only enhance Ireland’s image as a producer of quality food.
Animal Health Ireland (AHI) chairman Mike Magan stressed the importance of enhancing value for farmers and the agri-food industry through superior animal health.
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