PM+: EU's animal health sector 'essential' in fighting disease

Written by Roxane Feller on 21 April 2015 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

 Europe's animal health industry is committed, innovative and resilient, explains IFAH's Roxane Feller

In this age of innovation and globalisation the European animal health sector plays an essential role in safeguarding public and animal health and serves as a key tool in Europe's agri-food business.

Animal health companies in Europe are continuously finding and developing new and innovative ways to prevent and control animal diseases and substantially invest in this area. Large multinational companies spend around 12 per cent of their annual turnover on research and development into new products, with SMEs spending around six per cent annually.

"More than 30 per cent of all veterinary medicines produced worldwide are used to care for animals in Europe"

Today 35 per cent of this money is however spent on duplication of work, primarily due to the complex regulatory system across Europe, and evolving data requirements applied retrospectively to existing products (defensive R&D). The equivalent figure in the USA is much less, at around 17 per cent.

It can take anything up to just under a dozen years to bring a new product to market and costs can reach an astonishing €130m.

IFAH-Europe continuously reminds European decision-makers that by redirecting investment towards administrative tasks they are in fact hindering innovation, rather than allowing industry to find new ways to protect Europe's 149 million pigs, 86 million cattle, 85 million sheep or its 66 million cats and 61 million dogs from disease.

More than 30 per cent of all veterinary medicines produced worldwide are used to care for animals in Europe.

The most commonly used products are medicines designed to protect animals from parasites and vaccines created to prevent the occurrence of disease.

We fully agree with the European commission's principle that 'prevention is better than cure'. This is widely reflected by the new products currently in the pipeline. Almost half of new and innovative products currently being authorised for use are 'preventative' vaccines, covering around 30 different animal diseases, compared to only six per cent of new products in the 'cure' antibiotics bracket.

Vaccines prevent a number of serious diseases in animals and make an important contribution to sustainable agriculture, animal health and welfare.

"Thanks to effective vaccines produced by the animal health industry rabies has practically been eradicated in Europe, while vaccines have also helped to dramatically reduce cases of salmonella contamination in poultry meat"

This also has a positive impact both on food safety as only healthy animals enter the food chain and on human health with the prevention of diseases that can be passed between humans and animals (zoonoses).

Thanks to effective vaccines produced by the animal health industry rabies has practically been eradicated in Europe, while vaccines have also helped to dramatically reduce cases of salmonella contamination in poultry meat.

The industry has also reacted rapidly to emerging disease situations developing vaccines for diseases as such as Blue tongue and Schmalllenberg virus.

Our industry together with farmers, vets, the feed industry, pharmacists, diagnostics, and a range of other partners founded the European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals (EPRUMA).

The driving force of this alliance is in promoting the responsible use of medicines for Europe's animals. This is done through promoting animal health and welfare; developing best-practice frameworks on the use of veterinary medicines and by communicating with and engaging all parties concerned.

We are committed to finding new ways to prevent and control disease and to safeguard existing medicines for the health and welfare of both animals and public health.

 

About the author

Roxane Feller is Managing Director of IFAH-Europe, the representative body of manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in Europe.

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