28 June 2002

Licenced drug losses pose

a welfare risk

THE continual loss of licensed drugs from the marketplace is likely to create welfare issues on UK farms, according to independent sheep vet Chris Lewis.

"The licensing authorities need to take a more sensible view of minimal residual levels (MRLs)," says Mr Lewis.

"We are regularly losing proven products from the marketplace due to reviews of MRLs."

While food safety is of paramount importance, animal welfare must be the priority of producers and a lack of approved products in the marketplace could lead to welfare issues on farms.

MRLs can now be extrapolated across ruminant species and this should help to maintain the number of products on the market, although other issues also have an effect on product availability, believes Mr Lewis.

Licensing costs

"The cost of licensing products is prohibitive and is leading to few new products being developed. Often when products are developed, licensing costs prevent them from coming to the market."

NFU animal health and welfare specialist Peter Rudman agrees that continual reductions in the number of products available to vets will ultimately have an impact on animal welfare.

"Vets are increasingly having to use products licensed for one species on other species which they are not licensed for.

"This puts pressure on vets to ensure they get it exactly right and risks animal welfare at the same time," says Mr Rudman. &#42