2017-12-29  facebooktwitterrss

NOAH’s Review of 2017 – Brexit has been Key

2017 has been an exceptionally busy year for the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), with Brexit straddling every activity.

NOAH Chief Executive Dawn Howard comments:
“We estimate that well over 40% of NOAH’s resource this year has actually been spent on Brexit-related activity.

Dawn Howard

Dawn Howard

“With Article 50 triggered in March, the shape of how the UK will leave the EU is only now starting to become a little clearer, with the December ‘divorce settlement’ announcement. Many questions still remain. During the year, fact-finding and information-exchanging has been core. This has been two-way – keeping our membership well informed on the constantly changing political agenda, and spreading the word wider about what is needed to ensure the animal health sector continues making its important contribution to UK’s economy, food security and society – and to grow. Equally, so we can find out exactly what is needed and where opportunities and potential pitfalls lie, we have actively sought views and feedback from our members and others in our sector. NOAH was pleased to welcome 2 new members during the year: Krka UK Ltd and Cyton Biosciences,” she says.

Critical to NOAH’s understanding and communications during the year has been its Brexit Barometer series of reports – with the first edition published in the summer and the second imminent.

“This shows opinions of members and stakeholders through 6 different areas relating to animal health with varying degrees of optimism, but overall uncertainty about the future of the animal medicines industry. The report will be repeated again in 2018 to track shifting sentiment, as the Brexit process unfolds,” adds Dawn.

Standing behind this is more analysis: NOAH’s committees have been undertaking detailed work such as looking at ‘Day zero’ and identifying what needs to be in place to ensure that business and trade can operate as smoothly as possible when the UK exits.

“We need to make sure there are not problems accessing veterinary medicines for UK vets, SQPs and animal owners,” says Dawn.

She adds: “We have been working with others with participation in structured groupings such as the Agri-Brexit Coalition and the Life Sciences Group along with our colleagues in the human health sector, and have met many others throughout the year to exchange views and lobby government.

“Business needs certainty to be able to plan. We have welcomed what’s being done, but need more clarity – animal medicine companies are making decisions right now about their businesses in the UK.

She goes on to explain that in parallel with NOAH’s Brexit work, the association has been continuing with its other major activities. For example, the regulation of animal medicines remains key: in particular, the review of the EU legislation for veterinary medicines and medicated feed.

She says:
“Despite Brexit, this new legislation will still impact on us in the UK, and needs to be right – the original concept was to encourage innovation and medicines availability, while cutting back on unnecessary red tape, so presents opportunities for our sector.

“With our working relationship with our newly renamed European association Animalhealth Europe cemented, NOAH continues to play an active role, informing key officials and European politicians as the draft legislation goes through the consultation phases. As it approaches ‘trilogue’, tripartite meetings attended by representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, negotiations enter their final phase and it’s vital that the wording on things like, for example that the definition of who can prescribe remains compatible with our UK system of prescribing and distribution.

“With the European Medicines Agency confirmed to be moving to Amsterdam, we need to ensure continuity of availability of animal medicines during the move, and into the future. NOAH welcomed the UK’s stated commitment to continuing a close working relationship with the EU in relation to the EMA,” she explains.

In addition, activity to reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance remains vital. NOAH has been supporting the activities of RUMA, for example, who held a ground breaking conference in October, where it announced new species-specific farm antibiotic targets, as a result of the work of the RUMA Targets Task Force (TTF), of which NOAH is a member. These will further reduce, refine or replace antibiotic use across eight different livestock sectors.

Dawn explains:
“With this work ongoing, NOAH is keen to ensure animal health and welfare are not compromised by working to promote measures to prevent disease, including encouraging uptake of vaccinations and other alternatives where they are available. We have stated that to complement responsible use efforts our sector is committed to investing in the development of alternative products to prevent disease.”

“This year has offered many opportunities and challenges – which have featured on the NOAH website,” says Dawn. “Looking forward, Brexit will again be to the fore and NOAH will be the leading voice for the animal health sector – making sure our members views are heard by policymakers both in Westminster and Brussels. But as things start to become clearer, there will be opportunities and it will be vital that the whole industry remains united in supporting high standards of animal welfare post-Brexit, with health an integral part of that,” she concludes.


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