A need to raise awareness about veterinary medicines among EU citizens has been revealed by a survey from the International Federation for Animal Health Europe (IFAH).
Designed to highlight attitudes towards the use of vet medicines for the treatment and prevention of diseases in pets and farm animals, the survey’s results were drawn from an online questionnaire undertaken by 6,000 members of the public from the UK, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain.
Results showed EU citizens are concerned about the use of vet medicines and their impact on human health. However, their level of knowledge on the topic was limited, with findings indicating the importance of increasing awareness about the benefits of vet medicines and responsible use, as well as how safe they are.
Awareness about the benefits of vet medicine in terms of animal welfare was very low, with more than 60% stating they don’t know or don’t think vet medicines have a positive impact on the welfare of farm animals. In total, 59% said farm animals have the same right to receive medicines as people, however.
Although not directly comparable, the latest European Commission’s Eurobarometer on animal welfare shows more than three quarters of citizens agreed farm animals should be better protected.
Levels of awareness were slightly higher for pets, with 47% saying they don’t know or don’t think vet medicines have a positive impact on the welfare of pets.
When it came to the link between public and animal health there was also a knowledge gap, with more than 40% saying they don’t know or don’t agree vaccination of pets helps prevent diseases being transferred to people.
With regard to food safety, the knowledge gap increases with nearly three quarters of those surveyed (72%) saying they don’t know or don’t think medicines given to farm animals help make food safer. As only healthy animals are allowed to be introduced into the food chain, it is clear more detailed information on safe food production is needed.
IFAH-Europe secretary general Roxane Feller said: “The animal health industry invests huge resources in developing, testing and manufacturing safe, effective and quality veterinary medicines, and Europe has one of the world’s most stringent licensing systems for controlling veterinary medicines.
“However, 66% of respondents don’t feel well informed about the use of veterinary medicine in general and over 50% are unaware medicines for use in animals meet the same safety standards as medicines for people.”