Letter from the National Office of Animal
1. NOAH represents the Companies of the UK which
Research, Licence, Manufacture and distribute animal medicines
in the UK. Our member companies supply 96 per cent of all the
animal medicines licensed for sale in the UK. Included among our
members are all the major research based international animal
2. Following our telephone conversation on 18
May, I write to record NOAH's potential interest in the above
inquiry. Although NOAH does not have within its remit the genetically
modified crops or animals which will form the major focus of this
inquiry, aspects of Biotechnology can occur in the production
of Animal medicines which are used for the prevention and treatment
of farm animals. Such uses are already highly regulated by EU
law, notably Directive 81/851 as amended, and are generally regarded
as uncontroversial and beneficial. NOAH and its members wish
that their interest should be noted, and requests that we are
advised and invited to give evidence should the inquiry be
extended into these areas.
3. The principal ways in which Biotechnology
can be applied to the development and production of animal medicines
4. With minimal fuss a number of "Biotech"
vaccines have already been introduced to the market, most notably
the first successful vaccine against Aujesky's disease in pigs.
The opportunities for gene technology in this area are very greatboth
to provide vaccines for diseases resistant to conventional vaccine
technology, and longer-term, to provide replacements for existing
chemical therapies. It is already forecast, for example, that
Biotechnology could enable the development of vaccines to replace
chemical wormers and even to protect sheep from scab. The potential
benefits in terms of convenience, operator and environmental safety
More efficient production of medicines
5. It is already the case that many traditional
antibiotics are produced using cultures where the parent organisms
have been genetically enhanced to provide higher production levels
and less waste. The resulting antibiotic is no different but the
costs are contained.
BST provides another examplewhatever
one's views on the product, the fact is that biotechnology provided
the ability to manufacture a chemical compound which could not
be manufactured by conventional chemistry. Human insulin is perhaps
a less controversial example enabling necessary medicine to be
produced cheaply in large quantities, without the risks inherent
in extracting the product from animal (or human) cadavers.
Biotechnology can also be employed to improve
production of medicine ingredients, such as glucose which is produced
using enzymes developed by Biotechnology.
6. With the concerns over potential resistance
to existing antibiotics, genome technology is already providing
the prospect of a new generation of antibiotics specifically targeted
to by-pass the resistance mechanisms of pathogens. 77777While
the initial benefits will be for human medicine, longer term the
techniques will also be applied to animal diseases. In the meantime
success in counter developing such products to resistance in human
disease will undoubtedly reduce the pressure on necessary antibiotic
use in agriculture.
7. Although such products are not strictly regarded
as "medicines", better, more precise and hence more
effective treatment of disease depends on correct diagnosis. Furthermore
control of residues in food, cheaply and easily, can be assisted
at farm and manufacturing level by the availability of simple
and accurate testing systems.
Biotechnology is already being used to develop
testing "kits" which will enable the more discerning
use of medicines and the checking of produce.
Mr Roger R Cook
19 May 1998