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 of health.
The field of the veterinary pharmaceutical industry is highly competitive, and every year, in order to meet market changes and needs, maintain our market share 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.
|OUR KEY OBJECTIVES
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.
OUR POLICIES AND ACTION PLANS
Develop alternatives to 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 production 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 replace antibiotics or help reduce their use. We are also developping new medicines that will help the veterinary profession advance toward its goal of changing its practices are also being developed. In 2022, one of these medicines received its marketing authorization for the 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.
Develop modern alternatives to traditional treatments
We remain very attentive to healthy ecosystems and to environmental protection. Our goal is to develop alternatives to certain traditional therapies. As part of our responsible innovation process, 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.
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 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.
|% of biology RDL expenses*/total
|% of RDL expenses/Group revenue
* vaccines, immunological and biopharmaceutical products
In 2022, the decrease in the biology RDL expense ratio comes from significant additional investments in parasiticides following the acquisition of development projects.
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 in vitro testing as much as possible and involving our various partners and stakeholders: suppliers, supervisory authorities, professional associations, etc.
STUDIES ON ANIMALS
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:
Preclinical and clinical studies
In the Group animal facilities, the different categories of animals were distributed as follows in 2022: rodents 94.6%, rabbits 4.0%, farm animals 1.0%, and domestic carnivores 0.4%. The number of animals in aquaculture is not included in the analysis (units of Virbac Chile in scope in 2022, and Virbac Vietnam, whose Virbac aquaculture technical center [VATC] started its activity at the end of 2022). We are working on adding this data later.
|OUR KEY OBJECTIVES
General management defines the strategic areas of focus regarding resources for conducting animal studies and the development of alternative methods. These areas are implemented by the Corporate 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.
OUR POLICIES AND ACTION PLANS
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.
Key actions implemented
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 2022, as the participation of domestic carnivores in studies (particularly quality control studies) was reduced, the number of animals likely to be adopted is lower as well.
|Number of animals used for R&D studies
|Number of animals used for quality controls
With our RDL investments growing this year, the number of animals used in R&D studies increased slightly (+5.6%), mainly due to new product development studies.
The number of animals in quality control for all species also increased slightly (+1.7%): a high number of regulatory studies on vaccine stability had to be conducted in 2022. For domestic carnivores, the number in quality control decreased dramatically (from 182 in 2013, to 12 in 2022, a 93% decrease), the remaining tests being conducted in some countries whose authorities still require animal testing for the release of vaccine batches.