NZ lags in availability of animal medicines
Farmers are losing out to a loophole giving New Zealand veterinarians only one third of the animal-health products available in Australia.
While the Australian market is larger, animal health corporates are unwilling to invest large amounts of money bringing animal medicines to New Zealand because of a lack of intellectual protection.
Companies have to provide data to register animal medicines and Australia provides eight to 11 years protection of this so other companies cannot gain free access.
New Zealand's patent period of 20 years is in line with Australia. However, the regulatory system has only five years of data protection.
Veterinarians and farmer groups are waiting for a response six months after 28 submissions all opposed a discussion document by the Government proposing little change.
The animal and crop- health industry organisation Agcarm says it has been working for 10 years to raise the protection period.
Chief executive Graeme Peters said New Zealand was out of step with the rest of the world in data protection of animal-health products, disadvantaging the owners of livestock and pets.
He said there were insufficient products available to veterinarians.
"I would say no because at present there are lots of medicines used on animals intended for other animals . . . There are species where there are no products or very few of them."
New Zealand has 1175 veterinary products on the registration list as opposed to more than 3000 in Australia.
Farmed species such as deer or goats have few products registered for them, and the same loophole applies to smaller crops such as tamarillos. Peters said the big loophole needed to be tightened, and this was supported by groups such as Federated Farmers, the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Foundation of Arable Research and Horticulture New Zealand.
The Government had gone quiet after the release of the discussion document and seemingly refused to budge on the issue, he said.
He said raising the protection period would not mean there would be a flood of animal-health products because registering each product cost $30,000 on top of hundreds of thousands of dollars for providing data to back-up the medicine.
"But farmers would have more choice if they had access to these products. There are three times more products available in Australia and the market is larger with more animals, but New Zealand has a lot of animals and the smaller number of products is restricting vets."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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