NOAH statement regarding anti parasitic medicines and the recently published ‘Down-the-Drain’ Pathways paper
6th February 2024
NOAH is the trade association for the UK animal health industry. NOAH and our member companies are proud of the benefits for animal health, animal welfare and human health, that veterinary medicines, including companion animal antiparasitic medicines bring to pets and owners. We note the environmental modelling results in the recently published ‘Down-the-Drain’ Pathways paper1. We are open to work with regulatory authorities to explore potential exposure pathways to the environment for companion animal antiparasitic medicines after their use, and their relative importance, with the aim of reducing environmental exposure to the absolute minimum.
The industry remains fully committed to supporting all prescribers and users with the correct use and disposal of antiparasitic medicines. The industry has developed risk-based assessment tools for vets and for pet owners to assess the risk for their pet and make informed prescribing decisions and choices. We are also committed to working positively and proactively with the regulatory authorities on any other research or activities that they feel would be helpful to ensure environmental exposure is minimised.
Animal welfare and responsible use
- Antiparasitic medicines play an essential role in preventing parasites, improving animal health and welfare and in the strength of the human-animal bond. Parasites like fleas, ticks, mites and worms are a lifelong risk for pets and cause pain, discomfort, and illness that can be life-threatening for a pet if left untreated. Some pet parasites and the diseases they carry are zoonotic, putting human health at risk. It is therefore critical for pet owners to be able to readily access such products and use them responsibly to protect their pets, themselves and their home.
- Responsible use: With regards to topical antiparasitic medicines, comprehensive user advice is included as part of the product packaging, including precautions pet owners should take around handling, bathing and allowing treated animals into watercourses, in order to ensure efficacy and to avoid any product getting into the environment. It is important that prescribers and end users (pet owners) of these products carefully consider and follow the administration advice on any veterinary medicine labelling and packaging to protect the pet, the animal owner, and the world we live in.
- More information about the importance of reading and following the packaging information provided with veterinary medicines can be found on NOAH’s Paws to Protect campaign page here.
Robust regulatory system for veterinary medicines in the UK, overseen by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)
- The core principle of the regulation of all veterinary medicines, including antiparasitic medicines, is the assessment of all benefits and risks, which considers the product’s safety (including human/user and environmental safety), quality and efficacy and determines the product’s legal supply classification (who can prescribe/supply) together with any warnings to be placed on the packaging or restrictions on the product’s use.
- Antiparasitic medicines are regulated to be safe for the animal, the owner and the environment.
- Whilst some water sample data indicate certain molecules have been detected in certain UK rivers, the origin of these is not clear. The molecules may have multiple uses, for example as biocides, pest control, historical agricultural, horticultural and garden use and even imported treated textiles and food are potential alternative sources.
- Any changes to regulatory policy should be based on relevant and established science and evidence. Currently, it remains the case that there is no firm evidence and scientific consensus that there is harm to the aquatic environment arising from the use of veterinary medicines to recommend any change to regulatory policy.
Rosemary Perkins, Leon Barron, Gaëtan Glauser, Martin Whitehead, Guy Woodward, Dave Goulson, Down-the-drain pathways for fipronil and imidacloprid applied as spot-on parasiticides to dogs: Estimating aquatic pollution, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 917, 2024,170175, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.170175