At a lunchtime reception for the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) members and guests at the House of Lords, hosted by Professor the Lord Trees, NOAH Senior Vice Chair Jan Moehlenbrock from MSD Animal Health explained how the animal health sector will build on past achievements for a successful future.
He explained how important a successful animal health sector is for our society as a whole: “Our mission in animal health is as compelling for wider society as it has ever been. Our industry plays a critical role in the personal wellbeing given by much-loved pets.
“We are at the heart of UK food security and farming productivity. And we are key partners in a whole range of public health priorities and risks linked to animal-borne diseases (zoonosis). While helping the UK to succeed in these areas, our industry is focused on ensuring that the animal health community – industry and veterinary professionals – can also be guardians of environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
“Our industry has worked together through NOAH in challenging times including the UK’s exit from the EU and through the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure continued access to veterinary medicines for all our animals,” he said.
The animal health industry continues to face challenges and opportunities going into the future; the revision of the UK Veterinary Medicines Regulations will be key. The government’s public consultation is needed urgently so we can ensure our regulatory system is fit for the future.
NOAH has done much in preparation already: preparing a submission to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate which sets out ideas in advance of the consultation, to support UK animal health innovation, to enable the UK animal health sector to thrive, and to ensure continued access for health and welfare.
Jan Moehlenbrock said: “We need our regulations to be framed to encourage innovation, and to reduce unnecessary administrative burden, to enable our businesses to succeed through strong trading, manufacturing and research relationships with the European Union and other major trade areas.
“We need all our routes of supply to enable animal owners to be able to access animal medicines, and to support our already pressed vet profession, further challenged by the increase in pet numbers through the pandemic.
“With these new pet owners now facing the cost of living crisis, and recent headlines highlighting the difficult decisions that some pet owners are being forced to make in giving up their pets, we will continue to work with others to ensure that health and welfare does not suffer as difficult spending decisions need to be made. And we will continue to focus on the challenge of protecting supply of veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland.
“The current Northern Ireland Protocol impacts negatively on our members’ ability to keep products on the Northern Ireland market, with impact on supply chains and disruption to product supply. Estimates are that 40 percent to 50 percent of animal health products will be lost from the NI market, with negative impacts on disease status and animal health and welfare.
“A solution has already been agreed between the EU Commission and the UK for human medicines that would solve most of our sector’s problems – we are seeking similar for veterinary medicines for long term stability.
“Our dialogue with regulators and Northern Ireland animal health colleagues is good – and understanding of this potential crisis for animal welfare is growing – we will continue to work to try to achieve a solution.
“Our past achievements show what we are capable of, and I have every confidence for the future,” he added.