New parliament must ensure veterinary legislation becomes 'more efficient'

A 'harmonised licensing system' will divert money from 'burdensome' administration for use in innovation, says Alejandro Bernal.

By Alejandro Bernal

25 Jun 2014

Animal health products play an essential role not only in safeguarding public and animal health but also as a key tool in Europe’s agri-food business. With the legislation governing veterinary medicines due for review this autumn in the new parliament, it’s time to complete the journey to one true single market.

The single market is a European policy now more than 30 years in the making. The ideal is there and there are processes in place which allow for animal health products to be made available to farmers and vets across Europe but the procedures involved are burdensome in terms of administrative tasks and they are costly (double that of human medicines).

Despite the evidence showing that having to seek marketing authorisation in each of the 28 member states is far from cost-effective, there is a continued lack of harmonisation in the rules governing veterinary medicines. This means that considerable finance is essentially being diverted away from research and development.

"Despite the evidence showing that having to seek marketing authorisation in each of the 28 member states is far from cost-effective, there is a continued lack of harmonisation in the rules governing veterinary medicines"

What do we need in order to achieve a true single market? The single market exists in terms of movement of animals, of animal-derived products, and for food, but for the moment we are missing the necessary procedures for veterinary medicines to move from multiple local licences to single EU licences.

These procedures, if obtained in the current review of the legislation would enable greater availability of animal medicines to veterinarians and farmers and also a truly harmonised review system for animal medicines in all EU member states

The impact assessments carried out prior to the legislative review found that on average €538m is being spent per year on administrative tasks, such as submitting marketing authorisations to multiple member states, re-submitting dossiers for variations of products, producing packaging and labelling, and the list goes on (see infographic).

If all of these administrative tasks could be harmonised, in such a way so as to halve the associated spend, the industry could redirect investment that currently does not add value into innovation.

"It is now time for the new parliament and the council to consider the commission's proposal carefully and ensure that veterinary legislation becomes more efficient"

So, keeping in mind the Europe 2020 strategy for growth, it is now time for the new parliament and the council to consider the commission's proposal carefully and ensure that veterinary legislation becomes more efficient.

A harmonised licensing system would allow Europe to reduce the current administrative burden, it would improve the availability of authorised veterinary medicines across all EU member states, and very importantly, it would increase Europe’s attractiveness for investment in innovation.

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