Grim warnings about the need for a solution to the veterinary drug problem
The Ulster Farmers Union and the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) have jointly warned of the risk to animal health if steps are not taken to ensure veterinary medicines remain freely available, whatever the future of the Protocol.
Their concerns were underscored in a joint statement saying the problem is not about politics, but about finding practical solutions to ensure that livestock productivity and animal welfare do not suffer.
They say the problem stems from what happens at the end of the protocol’s grace period in December, when all veterinary products used in the EU, including Northern Ireland, must be authorized in the EU .
Left unaddressed, it is claimed this could force UK veterinary drugs destined for Northern Ireland to be re-licensed for use here – an outcome some companies may consider unprofitable.
A wide range of everyday veterinary products would be affected, including anthelmintics, anti-inflammatories, vitamins and vaccines.
The UFU and NIVA say failure to address this issue would pose a serious threat to the sustainability of food and agriculture.
“The still unresolved issue of veterinary drugs is causing more political issues regarding the NI protocol and it is in everyone’s interest that we get common sense solutions and firm assurances in the coming months – something that is long overdue”. said UFU President David Brown.
“We pushed for veterinary drugs to be included when human drugs were considered despite what some have said.
“We are extremely frustrated with the ‘they said’ ‘we said’ game being played.
“It’s a waste of time and it’s really hard to cash in when we’ve been highlighting this issue for so long. It did not happen overnight and it is high time that veterinary drugs were treated the same as human drugs.
“Extending the grace period to the end of 2021 was never a solution, nor was the prospect of going all the way next December.
“What we urgently need is good will and common sense on both sides so that we can resolve this issue with immediate effect to ensure livestock farming remains at the heart of our economy.”
Under current law, drugs approved in other EC member states can be imported using a ‘special import licence’, but NIVA says the application process is cumbersome and not a solution. practice.
The UK bill to remove parts of the protocol provisions could circumvent the issue of continued access to UK-registered medicines.
But the UFU and NIVA say the future of this legislation is too uncertain to offer the level of assurance they need about the situation after the current protocol’s grace period ends in December.
NIVA Senior Vice President Mark Little said, “This issue has already passed the point where we have the luxury of time to get a resolution. We and the UFU have pushed for this without the progress or understanding we need around the threat posed to the industry. Simply put, if this is not resolved, by the end of December up to half of the veterinary products we use here could be lost overnight, with massive consequences for veterinarians, pet owners and farmers.