Veterinary medicines account for a substantial portion of the production, sale, and consumption of medicines in Europe, and probably world-wide. This calls our attention to the fact that only healthy farm animals can ensure safe and sufficient livestock products to meet the growing demand for animal protein. Human and veterinary medicine share many common features - expressed and symbolised by the “One Health Concept”. This concept forms the logical basis for the maintenance of healthy livestock by the control of zoonoses and foodborne diseases, the prevention of poor sanitary conditions, and the reduction of microbial and parasitic threats, including resistance to antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. Achieving these aims will require international cooperation and interdisciplinary action. A new initiative of the European Federation for Pharmaceutical Sciences (EUFEPS) - the Network on Veterinary Medicines - has the potential to manage and overcome these challenges.
A number of EUFEPS expertise networks have already been established, and some will be instrumental in supporting the activities of the Network on Veterinary Medicines, e.g., the European Network on PharmacoGenomics Research and Implementation (EPRIN), as well as the Network on Bioavailability and Biopharmaceutics, and the envisioned Network on Systems Pharmacology. Notably, the EUFEPS Networks on Safety Sciences, on Environment and Pharmaceuticals and on NanoMedicine as well as on Regulatory Science, represent promising partners.
New technologies are being introduced to veterinary medicine for the treatment of numerous and frequently species-specific conditions. Scientific input from different areas is required to evaluate the potential benefit-risk profiles of these novel products, drug delivery techniques, and medical attention for animals as a whole.
Drug treatment of food-producing animals inevitably affects consumer safety and public health, as any administration of medicines to animals may result in the presence of drug residues in edible tissues or products such as milk, eggs, and honey. The many questions surrounding the risks to human health and to the environment posed by exposure to veterinary drug residues cause great concern among health authorities as well as the public. In particular, the shared use of many classes of antimicrobials in both veterinary and human medicine, the emergence and spread of resistant microbes from animals or animal-derived products to humans, and the presence of contaminated manure in the environment are all provoking deep concern throughout the world.
The Network on Veterinary Medicines initiative sees itself as broadly positioned. Among its most important goals are contributing to legislative issues in veterinary medicine and to the development of new pharmaceuticals for animal health, including novel drug delivery systems. Efforts to support the academic teaching and training of veterinary professionals and formulators for veterinary drug delivery are also considered imperative objectives of the network. The pursuit of these tasks will depend on interdisciplinary cooperation among experts from pharmaceutical and veterinary sciences, concentrating on issues where scientists from academia, industry and regulatory agencies can collaborate. National and international healthcare bodies, as well as organisations dedicated to the endorsement of teaching and training of scientists in pharmaceutical and veterinary sciences, are also key partners.
Major objectives of the network include the following: strengthening academic research to promote the emergence of new concepts, principles and mechanisms of action to develop innovative new veterinary medicinal products, supporting the education and training of future healthcare professionals in veterinary practice, pharmacy and industrial research, including continuing professional development, and supporting Veterinary Universities. Further efforts of the Network will encourage the European Commission to initiate calls for research in the area of veterinary medicines, such as Horizon 2020. Once these calls are in place, the formation of strong consortia to apply for funding (IMI, EU-funding) is projected.
The success of the Network depends on the engagement and expertise of cooperating specialists. It will benefit from the experience and means of other EUFEPS networks.