BVA President spells out Protocol fears over medicines

BVA President spells out Protocol fears over medicines

British Veterinary Association President Malcolm Morley has warned that ‘costly bureaucracy’; ‘the threat of onerous regulation’ and border checks of veterinary medicine as a result of Northern Ireland’s unique place in both the UK and EU regulatory systems, risks an animal welfare crisis and threatens public health.

Speaking to more than 80 guests at BVA’s 2022 Northern Ireland Dinner in Stormont, the new BVA president talked about the potential shortage of animal medicines facing the profession in Northern Ireland as the result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It is proposed that medicines entering the country will be required to be batch tested by a marketing authorisation holder based in Northern Ireland or the EU. With the grace period which delays the need for these requirements endling this year there is the potential for the discontinuation of around half of all veterinary medicines for a variety of animals and livestock.

Malcolm said: “This affects all sectors—farm, equine and pets. It is also not just an animal health issue but a public health issue, particularly if salmonella vaccines become unavailable to poultry vets. Such public health risks would also jeopardise access to markets outside Northern Ireland.

“The situation is highly concerning…. there is an urgent and immediate need to find a resolution. I know we can put the politics to one side and seek practical solutions. After all, to fail risks an animal welfare disaster, devastating impacts on livestock productivity and disruption to food chains in Northern Ireland at a time when we can least afford it.

“BVA’s Northern Ireland Branch President Fiona McFarland and her team have been working hard to set out for officials what the consequences of this loss of veterinary medicines would mean. They continue to work closely with our colleagues in farmers unions, the National Office of Animal Health and others to find a way forward.

“I believe a path forward can be found. We’ve seen that it’s possible to navigate the same issue for human medicines and adopting a similar approach for animals seems like a clear way forward. It was great to see UK and EU Commission negotiations restart last week. We need this issue to be top on their agenda.”

Addressing guests including Minister for Agriculture Edwin Poots,  BVA NI President Fiona McFarland (above) and MLAs, Malcolm also highlighted: the ongoing workforce shortages facing the veterinary profession, which are being felt acutely in Northern Ireland; animal disease control and future farming policy; and BVA’s continued lobbying of the UK Government to see the Kept Animals Bill transition into legislation.

He ended his speech by thanking BVA Northern Ireland Branch for its hard work and encouraged guests to continue collaborative efforts to find and champion solutions to these pressing issues.

Read the full speech here