Vaccines are 'biggest breakthrough' in animal health: Report

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas

Global health and trade organizations have been pushing for increased access to veterinary drugs, with groups such as HealthforAnimals and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) laying out potential solutions. But vaccines could have the greatest impact on animal health, with experts in a new report calling vaccination the "biggest breakthrough" in the field in the past 100 years.

In a recent industry report titled "Innovation in animal health," HealthforAnimals highlighted vaccines as critical to the future, with the market for the products growing at a rapid clip. The global market for animal health vaccines is expected to hit $7.2 billion by 2020, up from $5.5 billion in 2015.

"Vaccination has profoundly influenced and improved the health of both animals and people globally, and it will continue to be a fundamental tool to meet future health challenges," Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director of HealthforAnimals, said in a statement. "Prevention is better than a cure so it is vital we inject innovation into this field to ensure its growth."

A survey included in the report also showed that 89% of animal health experts thought that the human health sector could put a "greater focus on preventative healthcare." Preventable diseases such as rabies continue to proliferate, indicating some barriers to vaccine use, the group said in its report.

But HealthforAnimals has some ideas about how to fix the problem. The group mentioned streamlining the regulatory process for vaccines by reducing the number of people needed to sign off on a vaccine. HealthforAnimals also suggests improving teamwork, with lawmakers, farmers, researchers and companies banding together to reduce risks and costs associated with developing vaccines.

And the group cited a technique for creating vaccine banks, holding ready-to-use products, as another remedy. The OIE has already rolled out a concept that would make the banks regional, providing easier access to vaccines, HealthforAnimals said in its report. Suppliers can stock the vaccines as they're needed and renew their contracts on a rolling basis under the OIE's terms.

The report comes on the heels of efforts from health organizations and regulators to improve global animal health. In June, drug regulators converged at the 4th Global Animal Health Conference to discuss ways to increase access to vaccines, especially in developing countries with less regulatory infrastructure. A few months later, four global health organizations including the OIE launched an initiative on World Rabies Day, calling on countries to invest in mass vaccination programs for dogs.

- read the report (PDF)
- here's HealthforAnimals' statement