Rachel Mallet, BVM&S MRCVS, is a qualified Veterinary Surgeon and the Professional Services Veterinarian for Bimeda. Rachel is passionate about animal health and about promoting best practice amongst farmers and animal owners. She is a regular contributor to regional, national and international farming and veterinary publications.
One of Rachel’s key motivators is her passion for empowering the farmer through knowledge. Rachel is focused on is ensuring that farmers have the knowledge and tools available to make decisions which will ensure that their animals’ health and productivity is optimised and that their farms are as efficient and profitable as possible.
For Rachel, a key part of this objective is centred on ensuring that farmers have the knowledge they need to make informed product choices. We caught up with Rachel to get her thoughts on one area where farmers can increase their profitability without compromising their animals’ health- the area of generic medicines.
What type of brand alternatives does Bimeda offer?
We offer a wide range of products for dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep. Our product range is focused on the areas of parasite control, dairy production and nutrition. We also offer products for horses.
100mg/ml oral suspension
Speak to your vet or SQP, or learn more about Bimeda products.
Could You Save With
Bimeda Brand Alternatives?
A Vet's Guide to Selecting Animal Health Products
Rachel, you are concerned that some farmers are cutting costs in the wrong areas? Can you give use some detail?
Yes, absolutely. As farmers look to save money it is absolutely imperative that best practice protocols on farm are maintained, as cutting corners will undoubtedly prove detrimental to the health and welfare of animals, meaning this sort of cost-cutting is counter-productive. I recently heard of farmer who stopped using trace element boluses as a cost-saving measure in spite of the fact that blood tests had shown his animals were deficient in selenium. As a consequence a number of animals were born with white muscle disease and the farmer was hit with an increase in vet bills. Best practice protocols on farm should be maintained and should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost.
However, you believe there is a risk-free way to cut costs. You feel that by examining their buying behaviour, UK farmers could reduce their costs and increase their profitability, without compromising on product efficacy or the health of their animals?
Yes; an area where costs can be reduced without cutting corners, is in the area of product selection. If we look at the buying behaviour of farmers we tend to see farmers buying the same product they have always bought, either out of force of habit or through fear that switching to an alternative could have a negative impact on the health of their animals. In reality, if farmers were to actively seek out alternative brands, (sometimes known as ‘brand alternatives’ or ‘generics’) they could make significant savings, without compromising on the health of their livestock.
How does farmer buying behaviour compare to that of other consumers?
Something I always find interesting is that when I talk to farmers at marts, shows and lectures they often tell me it has never occurred to them to ask for a brand alternative when they speak to their SQP or vet.
However, the same farmers usually tell me that they have no hesitation in asking their pharmacist for a generic painkiller or hayfever medication. It’s a curious phenomenon. I want farmers to start engaging with their SQPs and vets to fully understand what options are open to them, and if they can make their pound go further.
So, what are brand alternatives or generics medicines?
Generic medicines are those whose original patent has expired and may now be produced by manufacturers other than the original innovator.
Are generic drugs as good as the brand leader?
There are a lot of misconceptions about brand alternatives/generics. From speaking to farmers around the UK I am aware that there is a perception that brands other than the original brand are poor quality. This is simply not the case.
The active ingredient(s) in a generic medication must be bioequivalent to that of the brand leader. This means that it must be proven to have the same effect as the original product.
Ok, does that mean that all medicines have to undergo the same approval process?
Yes, exactly. There is no distinction between ‘generics’ and ‘non generics’ when it comes to the standards applied for quality and approval processes. Generic pharmaceutical products in the animal health market must undergo the same rigorous processes for approval as brand leaders known as Marketing Authorisation (MA). This comprises of an extensive, independent review which is carried out to ensure the product is safe, efficacious and of a high quality.
Only following this in-depth review can the product be granted a Marketing Authorisation.
So the process for generics/brand alternatives really is as rigorous as for the original product?
Yes, of course. In order to obtain a Marketing Authorisation a manufacturer has to submit the results of all studies carried out on the product. To give an idea of how in-depth this is- it may contain anywhere between 5000 and 500,000 pages.
The review alone can take up to 3 years to complete due to the complexity of analysis and time required to evaluate the sheer volume of data! The whole process from inception of a product to the granting of a marketing authorisation can be anywhere from 5-15 years and cost up to £50 million. This process is designed to protect the public, animals and environment from poor quality or unsafe pharmaceuticals which is why it must be so thorough.
Does that mean a poor quality product should never even reach the market place?
That’s right. Any poor quality, sub-standard products will be identified at this stage, refused a marketing authorisation and will never be sold. As a result you can have confidence that any product, whether brand leader or generic, that has survived this process is safe and effective.
What are the Potential Benefits To UK Farmers of Considering Generic Products?
Generic products or ‘brand alternatives’ often cost less than brand leaders so cost of treatment per animal may be reduced.
This allows greater profit for farmers while still having the same desired effect and in turn means you can invest more in your systems, preventative medicine and ensure greater welfare standards.
How Can Farmers Utilise Generics?
- Ask your vet or SQP to detail the generic products they have available.
- Ask for a breakdown of cost of treatment per animal to compare.
- If in doubt, ask if there is a Bimeda brand alternative available.
To summarise, the rise of generics in the animal health industry is, in my view, a positive. Generics often allow vets and SQPs to offer their clients an efficacious medicine at a lower cost. I would encourage farmers to use their next visit to their vet or SQP to discuss what savings they could make by considering brand alternatives/generics.
Products under the following categories POM-V* or POM-VPS*, NFA-VPS* and AVM-GSL are all subject to this strict criteria so you can be certain of their quality and that they will meet their label claims. As a result you should have no reservations about considering alternatives with the same active ingredient.
POM-V. A veterinary medicinal product (VMP) can only be supplied to a client by a veterinary surgeon following a clinical assessment of an animal (or a group of animals) which are under the care of the veterinary surgeon. E.g Antibiotics, Anti-inflammatories.
AVM-GSL. There are no legal restrictions- anyone can supply these products. (Authorised Veterinary Medicine- General Sales List).
POM-VPS. Veterinary medicinal products under this classification can be prescribed by a vet, SQP or a pharmacist. No clinical assessment of the animal is required by the prescriber however it is their responsibility to ensure they obtain information about the animal(s) to ensure that it is an appropriate and safe use of that product. E.g. Wormers, Flukicides.
NFA-VPS. These products are for non-food producing animals and can be supplied by a vet, pharmacist or SQP.