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VMR reforms come into force
The changes follow a consultation last year which lead to some initial proposals being dropped.
Changes are the first major overhaul of the legislation since 2013.

The updated Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMR) have come into force in Great Britain today (17 May 2024).

The amended regulations replace the previous 2013 regulatory framework and aim to ensure that the UK is an attractive place to develop and market veterinary medicines.

The new legislation introduces a large number of changes affecting a wide range of areas, including the development, marketing, supply, and prescription of veterinary medicines. The changes do not apply to Northern Ireland, where long-term issues over the supply of veterinary medicines are still to be solved following the UK leaving the EU.

The updated legislation has been welcomed by the National Office of Animal Heath (NOAH), which represents the UK animal health industry.

Dawn Howard, NOAH chief executive, said: “This new legislation presents an opportunity for the UK animal health sector to thrive, as the 2013 VMR regulatory framework was no longer fit for purpose and reforms to the regulations were well overdue.

“We would like to thank the UK veterinary medicines regulatory authority, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, who put a tremendous amount of effort into drafting this new regulation and their openness in consulting all those who will be impacted by it to express their views.”

However, the legislation has received a more mixed response from the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, whose members include the Royal College of Physicians, Compassion in World Farming, and Friends of the Earth.

The new rules ban the routine use of antibiotics on farms and their use to compensate for poor standards of hygiene, animal husbandry and management practices. Prophylactic use has been restricted to “exceptional circumstances”. According to the campaign group, these changes do not go far enough.

Cóilín Nunan of the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said: “Some of the new rules on farm antibiotic use are welcome and long overdue. Unfortunately, the government has deliberately weakened the legislation, in comparison to the EU’s, and this will allow some poorly run farms to keep on feeding large groups of animals antibiotics, even when no disease is present.

“We are also concerned the ban on using antibiotics to compensate for inadequate animal husbandry and poor farm management practices may not be properly implemented.”

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."