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Aims & Responsibilities

Veterinary medicines benefit animal health and welfare and public health by preventing and treating disease in farm animals, horses and pet animals, even medicines for honey bees are included in our remit.

The vision of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate is the responsible, safe and effective use of veterinary medicinal products. In working towards achieving this vision the VMD aims to protect public health, animal health and the environment and promote animal welfare by assuring the safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines.

The VMD aspires to continue to move in the direction of being an outward facing organisation with a strong focus on the needs of our customers and stakeholders. In doing so we support the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) objectives to protect public health and ensure high standards of animal welfare, and promote a sustainable, competitive and safe food supply chain, which meets consumers' requirements.

We also support the aim of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to protect and improve the safety of food people eat. The VMD works with the devolved administrations in developing veterinary medicines policy and by doing so contributes to their strategic objectives. Our work increasingly engages with the European Medicines Regulatory Network regulating veterinary medicines across the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA). We work closely with our European colleagues to harmonise the authorisation of veterinary medicines and thus empowering the free movement of goods and services.

The VMD is responsible for:

  • The assessment, issue and maintenance of all national Marketing Authorisations (MA) for veterinary medicines in accordance with European Community and UK legislation;
  • acting as Reference Member State (RMS), Rapporteur, Co-Rapporteur or Concerned Member State (CMS) for designated European applications for centralised or decentralised or mutual recognition authorisations;
  • controls on the manufacture and distribution of veterinary medicinal products including inspections;
  • pharmacovigilance through the surveillance of Suspected Adverse Events (SAEs);
  • surveillance for residues of veterinary medicines and illegal substances in animals and animal products;
  • the provision and implementation of policy advice on these matters to Ministers;
  • the management of the Research & Development (R&D) programme linked to veterinary medicine issues; and
  • the co-ordination of Defra's work on antimicrobial resistance via the Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination (DARC) Group.

We do this by validating, assessing and interpreting data provided to us on veterinary medicines. Where necessary we seek independent expert advice from the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) and the Veterinary Residues Committee (VRC). We subcontract analytical tests or other procedures that have to be carried out.

Under the provisions of European Commission (EC) and UK legislation, no veterinary medicinal product may be marketed without an MA, which is granted only after a detailed scientific assessment of the data relating to safety, quality and efficacy. In addition, inspection of manufacturing premises is required to ensure that quality of the final product is assured. In a change from earlier years all of this work was performed by VMD inspectors, with the exception of sites making human as well as veterinary medicines which were inspected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Once a product has been authorised, post authorisation surveillance is co-ordinated by the VMD. The Suspected Adverse Reaction Surveillance Scheme (SARSS) monitors and responds to reports of suspected adverse events to veterinary medicines in both animals and humans. The National Surveillance Scheme (NSS) for veterinary residues is a statutory scheme under which targeted samples from farms and slaughterhouses and other food processors are analysed for the presence of residues arising from veterinary medicines. The non-statutory residues surveillance programme supplements the statutory scheme by analysing samples of mainly imported meat and animal products at the ports or purchased from retail and other outlets. All three strands of surveillance combined with the effective enforcement, investigation and inspection activities ensures the safe and effective use of veterinary medicines in the UK.

Inspection of the wholesale supply chain and the feed-mills mixing animal diets containing veterinary medicines is also carried out under the control of the VMD through the MHRA or Animal Medicines Inspectorate (AMI), which is part of the VMD.

The VMD provides policy advice to Ministers on all aspects of the authorisation and use of veterinary medicines and manages the Department's R&D programme on veterinary medicines.

Last Updated: 21 January 2011

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