A record total of 1,880 veterinary medicines were authorised in Ireland in 2020, according to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

This included the authorisation of 57 new veterinary medicines for the Irish market.

In its 2020 annual report, published this week, the HPRA stated that as part of its Brexit-preparation strategy, it focussed on protecting the availability of veterinary medicines on the Irish market; and liaised with the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate regarding maintenance of common labelling for medicines, post Brexit.

It also engaged with industry to identify potentially vulnerable products.

Veterinary medicines shortage

Despite this, however, medicine shortages continued to be a challenge for many vets around the country, for the treatment of different species and conditions, the HPRA said.

In response, the HPRA said it carried out gap analysis and prioritised applications linked to shortages; and it held meetings with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to discuss shortages-related issues.

These discussions included the need to develop an inter-departmental process in relation to potential shortages arising from Brexit.

Adverse events

Over the course of 2020, the HPRA said it received 391 national reports of suspected adverse events to veterinary medicines with the vast majority of reports coming from pharmaceutical companies.

Adverse events

  • 2016 – 337l
  • 2017 – 397l
  • 2018 – 394l
  • 2019 – 347l
  • 2020 – 391.

Additionally, the HPRA said it processed 565 periodic safety update reports (PSURs).

These involved the assessment of individual medicines on the market in Ireland, as well as a work-sharing initiative where the HPRA led, or contributed to, the assessment of a class of veterinary medicines for the EU.

What’s the HPRA’s role in veterinary medicine?
The HPRA grants licences for veterinary medicines subject to a review of their safety, quality and effectiveness. It monitors the use of the products concerned in animals once they become available on the market in addition to authorising clinical field trials and inspecting/licensing manufacturing sites.

In relation to the containment of antimicrobial resistance, the HPRA collected annual information on the sale of veterinary antibiotics.

This information, which is included in the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC), is important as it allows Ireland to benchmark its usage rate against other European countries, and to follow any developing trends, said the HPRA.

Due to a variety of factors, however, there are significant fluctuations in sales of antibiotics annually and, consequently, a clear trend is not identifiable, the HPRA said in its report.

Veterinary antibiotic use – tonnes sold

  • 2016 – 96.9;
  • 2017 – 103.4;
  • 2018 – 99.7;
  • 2019 – 99.4;
  • 2020 – 88.8.