The Future of Animal Health with a View to Brexit

Brexit seems to be a never ending process that may or may not happen in 2019, and even if it does there is still no real certainty as to what shape it will take, what sort of deal (if any) that the government puts in place with the EU to deal with the process of leaving the Union. This will, of course, have a massive impact on all walks of life, and in October NOAH – the trade association for veterinary medicine manufacturers – held a conference to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on animal health.

NOAH (National Office of Animal Health) represents above 90% of the UK animal medicines market and the conference at the end of last year brought together individuals and organisations from throughout the animal health industry in the UK to discuss Brexit, the potential challenges, but also the potential opportunities that it could bring to the industry.

The conclusions from the conference were that because of the integrated nature of the sector, they saw it as vital that the UK could leave the EU with a deal of some sort. Without a deal there is the real possibility of problems of bringing vital products to the sector in to the UK – up to 20% of animal health products might in fact face shortages if there is a no deal scenario. UK farmers have worked hard over the years to develop a situation where we currently have incredibly high standards of animal health and welfare and it is important that a route is found that does not compromise the health of farm animals because of the outcome of Brexit. The UK has to remain a leader in the field of animal health and welfare, with strong biosecurity protocols and advancements across the industry.

There are a few areas that require a closer look in terms of Brexit and animal health. Although over the long-term there could be a problem with the registration and marketing of veterinary medications and products in the UK, the short-term outlook is based around logistics and distribution. Over 90% of veterinary medications are imported, most of which coming from Europe. This includes vaccines, with strict sell by dates and refrigeration requirements. This means that stock piling is not an option that can be seriously considered.

On top of this, research and development has seen a trend of fragmentation with some companies deciding in recent years to concentrate solely on human or veterinary medicine. New innovation costs a lot of money and can be difficult, and integration with funding and partnerships within the EU has been a big and positive part of the process over the last few decades.

No matter the end result of Brexit and the challenges that could result from it, it is important to have trust in a supplier that can demonstrate a track record of success with a wide range of clients. Biosecurity is vital, and the construct of Brexit will not change this matter of fact over night. Being able to purchase and use a high standard of disinfectant, cleaning products, and animal medicine as part of your thorough biosecurity plan, whether you are working with cattle and sheep, pigs, poultry, or aquaculture, allows you to develop a strong foundation that looks after animal welfare and maintains strong levels of production and standards for consumers.