Innovating responsibly

For many years, we have sought to provide an innovative and safe range of products and services, developed and produced with respect for animal welfare. Our customers, veterinarians, farmers and animal owners around the world are becoming increasingly mindful of their impact on the environment and human health. As a responsible company, we have naturally oriented our business accordingly.

Furthermore, we focus our research on increasingly innovative and distinguished health products that address a variety of pathologies and production needs, based on the unique features of the individual geographic areas in which they appear. Every day, we are committed to the best way to achieve this, while remaining faithful to the quality requirements for the health of animals.


The field of the veterinary pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, and every year, in order to meet market changes and needs, maintain our offer and ensure our development, we devote significant resources to research and development. We place particular importance on the search for continuous improvement in the innovative solutions proposed and in the way they are developed.


  • Develop new drugs that are consistent with a sensible use of antibiotics.
  • Develop modern alternatives to traditional treatments.
  • Use new environmentally friendly technologies to develop and update our products.


Our organization in charge of innovation is structured in research centers spread across all continents and which work in a network of key skills to generate greater synergies and creativity. This close proximity with our customers and their needs in the different global markets allows us to have a range of relevant and adapted products and services.


Develop new medicines that are consistent with a sensible use of antibiotics

The development of prevention, particularly by vaccination, is one of the ways to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production. Our recent investments in our centers for the research, development and production of vaccines intended for farm animals in France, Australia, Chile, Uruguay and Taiwan reflect this willingness to strengthen the Group’s development in this area. We have also initiated several partnership programs with public research institutes and private companies to advance together in the development of innovative products (immunostimulants, micronutrition, biocides), some of which may be able to replace antibiotics or at least help reduce their use. New medicines that will help the veterinary profession advance toward its goal of changing its practices are also being developed. In 2023, one of these medicines was launched in European territory, offering new perspectives to veterinarians: it can be used as a first-line treatment in place of the current medicines that all contain antibiotics. It will be rolled out globally in the coming months and years. Other medicines are being developed to expand this concept to other pathologies and species.

Develop modern alternatives to traditional treatments

Our goal is to develop alternatives to certain traditional, at times polluting, therapies. For example, and when it makes sense from a medical and epidemiological point of view, we look for routes of administration that have less of an impact on the environment and reduce dosages while maintaining at least the same levels of efficacy. In another area, that of animal well-being and bodily integrity, we have taken a new step forward thanks to the discovery of a new treatment that represents a real alternative to surgical castration in dogs, through hormonal regulation that neutralizes the reproductive capacity of the animal for six months or a year. The animal’s well-being is preserved here. Any irreversible surgical procedure is currently unnecessary, in the interests of the animal and its owner.

Use new environmentally friendly technologies to develop and update our products

For the development of new products, all Virbac R&D sites worldwide in charge of analyses now use more efficient chromatography and extraction technologies. This approach helps reduce:

  • the number of tests necessary for the development of the methods (-50%);
  • the amount of organic solvents or materials (between -50 and -90%);
  • as well as the energy consumption of the analysis devices (-50%). 

The same approach is used with the same benefits throughout the product life cycle, including during regulatory updates of existing products. Beyond the methodologies, whenever a toxic solvent can be substituted with an alternative solvent, it is proactively replaced by an equivalent that is more environmentally friendly.


Performance indicators  2021 2022 2023
% of biology RDL expenses*/total 31.1% 26.2% 26.5%
% of RDL expenses/Group revenue 7.4% 8.3% 9.1%

* vaccines, immunological and biopharmaceutical products


Virbac stakeholders (customers, veterinarians, farmers, employees, etc.) are increasingly mindful of the impact of our products on the entire value chain. This is why we conduct our innovation approach and our operations in a strong ethical framework, promoting as much as possible in vitro testing and associating our various partners and stakeholders: suppliers, supervisory authorities, professional associations, etc.


For the evaluation of our products in development or before marketing, our first approach is always to use methods that do not involve animals: bibliographical research, in vitro studies, computer modeling, etc. In some cases, when no recognized or adapted alternative method is possible, then animal studies of a necessary nature are conducted in accordance with applicable pharmaceutical rules and regulations.

These animal studies deal with:

  • animal protection: verification of the product’s safety (non-toxicity, no impact on reproduction, non-carcinogenic, etc.) and its efficacy in treating or protecting the target animal;
  • human protection: verification of safety for the product user and the absence of residues in species consumed (meat, milk, eggs);
  • environmental protection: verification of the absence of toxicity for organisms other than the target species that may come in contact with the product.

Preclinical and clinical studies

Pre-clinical studies (studies carried out in animal units under standardized and controlled conditions) are governed by regulations that affect every dimension of animal studies: approval of the institutions where the studies are carried out, staff training and qualification, the provenance of the animals and their traceability, prior ethical evaluation of studies and their follow-up, controls by the authorities, ethics committees, and audits carried out by Virbac teams. These studies make it possible to verify the efficacy and safety of the products under strict conditions.

Clinical studies (conducted on owner or farm animals) are intended to confirm the efficacy and safety of the products under field conditions and are subject to a regulatory submission or prior trial authorization (depending on the country) and are conducted under the responsibility of veterinarians.

In the Group animal units, at constant scope, the different categories of animals were distributed as follows in 2023: rodents 95.4%, rabbits 3.5%, farm animals 0.5%, domestic carnivores 0.6%. Due to the recent establishment of aquaculture units within the Group and the ongoing work on the structural organization of these, the data has not been included in the scope.


  • Limit the number of animals in R&D studies and quality controls by eliminating studies or replacing them with alternative methods whenever possible. Specifically, Virbac is committed to implementing a demanding policy of reducing the number of animals for quality control insofar as the proposed methods are technically feasible and acceptable from a regulatory standpoint in the countries where our products are sold. 


General management defines the strategic areas of focus regarding resources for conducting animal studies and the development of alternative methods. These areas are defined by the Group’s Animal Ethics department in the form of policies, action plans and control processes; this department is also responsible for promoting and ensuring compliance with ethics and animal welfare within the Group and among its partners.


A code of ethics and policies to regulate animal studies

The Group has developed a code of ethics relating to animal studies, which includes ten points and applies to all employees of the Group and its subcontractors. Furthermore, the Group has two policies governing animal studies: Animal ethics committee and Animal welfare.

  • The Animal ethics committee policy defines the scope, roles and responsibilities, organization, composition, ethical rules and operation of Virbac ethics committees.
  • The Animal welfare policy defines staff roles and responsibilities with regard to animal welfare. Based on the 3Rs principle (Replace, Reduce, Refine animal studies) and the Virbac code, it describes the standards to be applied to animals, studies and animal units within the Group. These standards are also required of the Group’s partners for any animal studies.

Control process  

  • Ethics committees are set up in all areas where animal studies can be conducted. They are all governed by the same ethical principles (independence, impartiality, absence of conflict of interest) and operational principles (imposed membership categories, ethical evaluation of studies, deliberation, vote, etc.). They review 100% of studies, which can only be conducted after obtaining their approval.
  • Ethics audits are carried out, both in the Group’s animal units and at its external partners in order to qualify them. With regard to outsourced studies, the Group imposes the same level of requirement on its partners: CROs (Contract research organizations), universities, etc. These requirements include the establishment of ethics committees within them, the deployment of strict procedures for monitoring their studies, respect for animal well-being and compliance with regulations.

Key actions implemented

  • The 3Rs  rule, now recognized as the international standard for animal studies, is our guiding principle for the design and execution of studies in our laboratories as well as those of our partners, but also for the development of alternative methods and their promotion with regulatory agencies around the world. Such alternative methods include, for example, carrying out in vitro tests in lieu of in vivo tests, when possible, or capitalizing on reproducible tests, bibliographic research or computer modeling. 
  • The various initiatives (negotiations with regulatory agencies to eliminate routine tests, production of dedicated batches for countries that do not require animal tests, replacement with in vitro methods, etc.) continue to pay off; they have enabled us to commit to the objective of reducing the use of animals in quality control.
  • A task force implemented within Virbac is dedicated to the development of alternative methods, which is a CSR priority objective by 2030 and will ensure a reduction in the number of animals.

In France, the post-study animal adoption program, implemented in 2013, in collaboration with the main French association dedicated to the adoption of laboratory animals, has also been expanded with an employee adoption procedure, and helps maintain our goal of guaranteeing a foster family for 100% of adoptable dogs and cats. In 2023, 50 dogs and 11 cats were put up for adoption. 



Performance indicators  2021 2022 2023
Number of animals used for R&D studies 5,772 6,093 4,764
Number of animals used for quality controls 20,107 20,458 24,333

As some projects have entered a development phase requiring fewer animals, the number used in R&D studies decreased by 22% in 2023 compared to 2022.

The number of animals in quality control of all species combined, and at constant scope, is increasing (+19%) mainly due to the increase in sales of the rabies vaccine in Brazil, which does not recognize non-animal methods for the release of vaccines. In Europe, Oceania and Asia, since 2018, Virbac has managed to reduce the number of animals in quality control by 50%, 35% and 42%, respectively, highlighting Virbac’s commitment to reducing the number of animals in quality control. For domestic carnivores, the number in quality control decreased dramatically (from 182 in 2013 to 8 in 2023, a 96% decrease), the remaining tests being dedicated to some countries whose authorities still require animal testing for the release of vaccine batches.


Strengthening employee engagement

Ensuring the quality of products and services

Protecting the environment

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CSR strategy and indicators