Joint plea to sort future of veterinary medicines
Vets and the farming lobby have jointly warned of the risk to animal health and welfare if arrangements are not made to ensure veterinary medicines remain freely available, whatever the outcome of the debate on the future of the protocol.
Concerns were highlighted in a joint statement from the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA), with both agreeing the issue is not about the politics around the protocol, but practical solutions to ensure livestock productivity and animal welfare do not suffer.
The problem stems from what happens at the end of the protocol grace period in December, when all veterinary products used in the EU, including Northern Ireland, must be licensed in the EU.
Without a solution this could see UK veterinary medicines destined for Northern Ireland having to be re-licensed for Northern Ireland – an outcome some companies might deem not cost effective, given the limited size of the market here.
NIVA senior vice president Mark Little said, “This issue has already gone beyond the point where we have the luxury of time to secure a resolution.
“We and the UFU have lobbied for this without the progress or understanding we need around the threat posed to the industry. Put simply, if this is not resolved, come the end of December up to half the veterinary products we use here could be lost overnight, with massive consequences for vets, pet owners and farmers.”
Everyday veterinary products that would be affected, include anthelmintics, anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins and vaccines.
The goal, says the UFU and NIVA, must be a common sense solution that maintains these products for the farming industry, warning a failure to resolve this would pose serious threats to the viability of food and farming and undermine key selling credentials of the industry.
UFU president, David Brown said: “It’s in everybody’s best interests that we get common sense solutions and firm assurances in the next few months – something which is long overdue.
“We lobbied for vet medicines to be included when human medicines were being considered despite what some have said. We’re extremely frustrated at the ‘they said’ ‘we said’ game that is being played out. It’s time wasting and utterly hard to take when we’ve been highlighting this issue for so long. It hasn’t just cropped up overnight and it’s about high time vet medicines are dealt with in the same way as human medicines.”