In terms of responsible innovation, Virbac today works with two main themes: alternative methods to animal testing and the reduction of antibiotics in animal production.
Virbac develops pharmaceutical and biological products for which regulatory studies and some quality tests imposed by the agencies necessitate animal tests. Virbac commits itself to the 3Rs rule (reduce, refine, replace), and is proactive in substituting of studies and investigations on animals by alternative methods and techniques and negotiates with different agencies worldwide to persuade them to accept alternative methods.
The development of prevention, particularly by vaccination, is one of the ways to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production. Recent investments by Virbac in research centres and vaccine production for livestock in Uruguay, Chile and Taiwan show the willingness of the company to strengthen its development in the field of vaccines. Virbac is also engaged in several partnership programmes with public research institutes and private companies with the goal of developing alternatives to antibiotics that will not create resistance in targeted bacteria. These partnerships are part of long-term thinking and, like the vaccines strategy, will allow reduction in the use of antibiotics.
In 2015, the resources devoted to innovation strongly increased (+12.5%) compared with the previous year and represent 7.9% of revenues.
To do this, Virbac meets the highest applicable quality-safety-efficiency standards. At the development stage, good laboratory practices are followed systematically, for example through data traceability. Good manufacturing practices are applied during the production stage, particularly through the certification of all Virbac factories. Finally, for the supply of medicines, Virbac uses good distribution practices, such as respect for the cold chain, when required by the nature of the products.
Evaluation of product safety during its use is carried out whenever necessary, particularly through the development or selection of specific packaging. In product labelling, Virbac intends clearly to explain all the information useful to the proper administration of the product and to the understanding of its properties and contra-indications. The Group also has a leading role in the development of schemas and pictograms which enable the optimised understanding of information fundamental to the health and safety of consumers to be optimised.
For species destined for consumption, Virbac ensures that during product development its products respect pharmaceutical standards relating to residual traces of medicines in foodstuffs: meat, milk, eggs... In addition, the guidelines for use are systematically brought to the attention of the consumer through product packaging and various associated communication media.
Throughout the life cycle of the products, including during development, Virbac assesses the expectations of clients and their satisfaction, in order continuously to adjust product characteristics. In terms of marketing, all Virbac promotional communications respect the scientific and technical claims demonstrated during the development stage of the product.
Lastly, the Virbac quality system enables the company to efficiently detect, trace and treat all quality incidents inherent in pharmaceutical activity.
In terms of the safety of products and their components, Virbac policy is as follows:
- provision of safety data sheets for “raw materials” and “finished products” to Virbac staff and transporters;
- organisation of transportation in line with European regulations governing the transportation of hazardous products:
- availability of safety data sheets for finished products in French and in English;
- packaging of hazardous products in packaging that meets current standards;
- from the client's perspective, Virbac complies with the European directives concerning indications and precautions for use that must appear on packaging, both for products requiring marketing authorisation and those referred to as nutritional. Each claim is supported by appropriate clinical studies.
Market research is systematically carried out before and during the development of new products to ensure alignment between the specifications and animal health needs, the practices of the veterinary profession and the expectations of owners and farmers in terms of compliance. For example, the palatability of oral products (tablets, liquids) and their ease of administration by the owner are two criteria validated during the product development stage.
Market research is also carried out regularly after the launch of new products. For example, before the launch of an ear treatment to gauge the degree of satisfaction of owners with the ergonomics, practicality and perceived efficacy of the product.
By the nature of its pharmaceutical industrial activity, Virbac is subject to the requirements defined by national and supranational veterinary medical agencies. Any product claims must be scientifically proven and kept available for the regulatory authorities. The pharmaceutical manager in each Virbac affiliate is guarantor of respect for regulations concerning products sold in his country.
These principles apply both to medicines with marketing authorisation and also to foods, food complements and dietetics for animals, for which Virbac is in compliance with new European regulations 767/2009. Furthermore, Virbac does not directly promote products needing a prescription (and non-exempt) from the owners but refers them to veterinary consultation to promote preventive medicine.