Veterinary medicines: New rules to promote animal health and fight antimicrobial resistance now apply

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


In the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a revamped legislation on veterinary medicinal products applies in the EU as from today. Adopted three years ago, this legislation is now a cornerstone to support the achievement of the objectives set in the European One Health Action Plan and in the Farm to Fork Strategy against AMR. The legislation also consolidates the EU’s leading role on the global stage to act against AMR.

Welcoming this milestone, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, made the following statement:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how human, plant and animal health, environmental health and food security are interlinked. The clearest illustration of these links is the silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.

We have set an ambitious target in our Farm to Fork Strategy of halving overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030. With the European One Health Action Plan, we aim to tackle this potential health crisis  by addressing human, animal and plant health as one continuum. The new rules will be key to achieving this.

In the EU, the majority of antimicrobials are administered to animals, to which the same basic principle applies as for humans: to treat illness and keep them healthy. However, it is possible to reduce infections and the need for treatment in the first place, through improved hygiene practices and vaccination, as well as – in the case of farmed animals – biosecurity and animal husbandry. Limiting the use of antimicrobials must be the priority.

The new rules will ensure that, as of today, treatments by antimicrobials for animals will be administered when, and only when, there is a real need for them. Together with the new legislation on medicated feed, which will ban the preventive use and restrict prescriptions of antimicrobial in medicated feed, the new rules will significantly strengthen the fights against AMR.  

The new rules will also promote the availability of promising veterinary medicines in the future by stimulating innovation and competitiveness.

I encourage all Member States to make sure that the appropriate measures and resources are put in place, in order to ensure the full functioning of the legislation on the ground at national level, and to make its implementation a common success.

The new rules strengthens the EU’s position is at the forefront of the global fight against AMR, while equipping us with a modern, innovative and fit-for-purpose legal framework on veterinary medicinal products.”

Background

Veterinary medicines – also known as medicinal products for veterinary use, veterinary drugs or veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) – are substances or combinations of substances to treat, prevent or diagnose disease in animals.

The EU supports the development and authorisation of safe, effective and qualitative veterinary medicinal products for the production of food and companion animals. It helps ensuring the availability of these medicines and whilst guaranteeing the highest level of public health, animal health and environmental protection.

Adopted in 2019, the new Regulation on veterinary medicines products (VMPs) enters into application on 28 January 2022.

The main objectives of the legislation are to:

  • set up a modern, innovative and fit for purpose legal framework,
  • incentivise innovation for VMPs and increase their availability,
  • strengthen the EU fight against antimicrobial resistance

In recent years, the Commission has been working towards the adoption of some 25 delegated and implementing acts to supplement this Regulation, half of which by the date of application of the Regulation.

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