Failure to boost meat drugs poses public health risk

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Health for Animals has warned livestock drugs could be limited to a 'small and elite group'
Health for Animals has warned livestock drugs could be limited to a 'small and elite group'

Related tags Animal health Medicine Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

An inability to develop new medicine for food-giving animals or remove “unnecessary” red tape could cause problems for animal and human health, an influential veterinary body has warned.

Health for Animals, a Belgium-based not-for-profit organisation representing the animal health industry, has set out its 2025 vision for regulation of animal medicine. This comes at a time when funding for research and development of new livestock drugs is “under intense pressure​”, according to the organisation.

Mergers and acquisitions have seen the animal health sector – much like the wider meat industry – consolidate in recent times, and Health for Animals warned the launch of innovative new drugs could be limited to a “small and elite group​”. As such, convergence and harmonisation of animal medicine control is at the heart of Health for Animals’ draft report. It claims the two elements may help tackle the dangers of less affluent countries missing out on new drugs and treatments.

Its 10-point plan sets out a blueprint for a strong and sustainable animal health sector that creates international regulatory equivalence and reduces administrative burdens.

Drug safety requirements

The points its makes include a call for authorisation decisions that are “science-based​” and solely evaluate the benefits and risks of new drugs. A fair return on investment for the creation of new veterinary medicines; efficient regulation to support and maintain quality and safety; pharmaceutical manufacturing that adheres to a single international standard; and faster timeframes for testing of new treatments are all called for in the draft report.

Other points include the proposal for companies to operate a single system of drug safety monitoring (pharmacovigilance) that follows requirements set out by Health for Animals.

Health for Animals’ draft vision for veterinary medicine comes on the back of its 2015 global benchmarking report, which highlighted the growing differences between countries in how animal health issues are managed.

The body has also claimed harmonisation of regulation is important as the cost of developing new medicinal drugs for meat-giving animals can cost around $32m. Alongside this, up to 31% of a company’s research and development budget has to be used to defend existing products, claims Health for Animals. In light of this, the body said changes should be made to ensure less capital is used to support outdated veterinary medicine, with an impetus on innovation and development.

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