EMA to reconsider basis for zinc oxide ban

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/think4photop
© istock/think4photop
The UK government, among others, has been pressing the European Medicine Agency (EMA) veterinary to review its decision of late last year to remove approval for the use of zinc oxide (ZnO) in pig feed.

The agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) is to reconsider the scientific basis for the proposed ZnO feed ban​ as a result, with the findings of that process expected to be published in two months’ time.

Pig Progress recently reported​ “requests for re-examination were sent to the CVMP, by aniMedica; Huvepharma; DSM and Provimi; and a range of 12 European animal health companies from e.g. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark.”

A spokesperson for the EMA said she was not at liberty to disclose any documentation surrounding “ongoing procedures”​ when FeedNavigator sought more detail on the grounds for re-examination outlined in those requests.   

UK reaction

Earlier this month, UK farming minister, George Eustice, said the UK presented its view on the ZnO in piglet feed withdrawal ruling at a meeting of the EU Standing Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products on 20 January, saying the move could have a significant negative impact on pig production.

"We will continue to engage with UK stakeholders and the Commission to ensure that the wider context of the impact of a withdrawal is fully considered, and to achieve the best outcome for all stakeholders, balancing availability of medicines with the need to manage all associated risks,” ​added Eustice.

Chief executive of the UK’s National Pig Association (NPA), Zoe Davies, welcomed the minister’s comments: "We have been making a strong case to retain zinc oxide and it is really important that we get the full backing of the Government and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) at EU level."

"We have always insisted the recommended ban is not justified by the evidence in front of us.

"We will continue to argue that the huge benefits of using zinc oxide in piglet feed far outweigh any environmental costs, which can be mitigated by either adopting a regional approach or reducing inclusion levels."

The NPA, as part of an alliance with the Pig Veterinary Society, the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) and AHDB Pork, has been lobbying hard at UK and EU level to fight the ban.

The UK trade association said it estimates that 70 to 90% of starter diets contain zinc oxide at therapeutic levels. A ban would therefore cause “a widespread deterioration in pig health and welfare”,​ as well as having a significant impact on farm productivity and compromising efforts to reduce antibiotic usage, it added.

Addressing the CVMP's environmental concerns about zinc oxide usage, the NPA said the environmental risk varies throughout the EU.

“Application on soils in the UK remains well below limits set by Defra and is often mitigated by dilution when slurry from pigs treated with zinc oxide is mixed with slurry from untreated pigs,”​ said the association.

The EMA told us in December​ a Danish study prompted its "u-turn"​ on ZnO veterinary premixes.

Related topics: Regulation

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