Availability of veterinary vaccines

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Vaccination is one of the most effective tools for preventing animal diseases and for promoting animal health and welfare, safe food production and public health. Despite their importance, there are often challenges to ensuring that suitable veterinary vaccines are available in a timely manner on the European Union (EU) market. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and its partners in the European medicines regulatory network are implementing an action plan to help increase the availability of veterinary vaccines in the EU.

Veterinary vaccines play a major role in protecting animal health by preventing and controlling serious epizootic diseases. They also have an impact on human health by ensuring safe food supplies and preventing animal-to-human transmission of infectious diseases.

Veterinary vaccines can be an efficient tool in reducing the need to use antibiotics in animals, thereby contributing to the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

The EU Medicines Agencies Network Strategy to 2020 identifies increasing the availability of veterinary medicines as a priority area for action by the European medicines regulatory network.

Joint EMA and HMA action plan

EMA and the HMA have drawn up a joint action plan to facilitate timely access to the EU market for new or improved veterinary vaccines, in the interest of animal and public health and animal welfare.

In November 2017, the CVMP accepted recommendations made by the joint EMA/Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) steering group on veterinary vaccine availability to increase clarity on when field efficacy trials are needed in the development of veterinary vaccines. 

The aim is to to increase regulatory predictability for development plans of animal health vaccine manufacturers:

These recommendations reflect the outcome of a joint focus group meeting held in June 2017, which brought together regulators, industry and academic experts.




Integrate appropriate elements into EU Medicines Agencies Network Strategy to 2020 and multi-annual work plans of EMA and HMAEU Medicines Agencies Network Strategy to 2020 includes improving the availability of veterinary medicines as a key strategic priority areaComplete
Publish a web page to promote communication on veterinary vaccine availability initiativeThis web page provides up-to-date information on the action plan and its implementationComplete
Set up a steering group to oversee progressJoint EMA/HMA steering group established in February 2016Complete
Create a group of CVMP members to identify, prioritise and make public CVMP plans and activities in the area of veterinary vaccine availabilityCVMP established the CADVVA in March 2016, which began its work in May 2016Complete
Provide support to development of new vaccines and associated technology through existing mechanisms such as scientific advice and Innovation Task Force (ITF)Scientific advice and ITF platforms continue to provide support for the development of new veterinary vaccines in EuropeComplete
Identify training opportunities in the area of veterinary vaccines, in cooperation with EU Network Training Centre

Steering group, CADVVA and IWP have begun identifying relevant training opportunities in 2016 and 2017


EMA/CVMP delivered training for immunologicals assessors in October 2016, focussing on assessing efficacy of immunological veterinary medicinal products


Steering group and CADVVA are considering training on approaches to harmonise assessment across the regulatory network, e.g. via harmonised interpretation of scientific guidelines, and will explore the feasibility of involving industry in training on issues relating to veterinary vaccine availability

Review list of factors identified by industry as constraining veterinary vaccine availabilitySteering group and CADVVA have conducted a detailed review including an impact assessment of industry recommendations: Joint EMA/HMA Veterinary Vaccine Availability Action Plan - Analysis of industry recommendationsComplete
Explore possibilities for public-private partnerships under Horizon 2020Steering group is reflecting on next stepsOngoing
Develop guidance on standards for manufacture of autogenous vaccinesCMDv published a recommendation for the manufacture, control and use of inactivated autogenous veterinary vaccines within the EEA in March 2017Complete
Finalise review of minor uses / minor species (MUMS) guidelines and publishEMA published the revised guideline on data requirements for immunological veterinary medicinal products intended for minor use or minor species (MUMS) and limited markets on 20 April 2017. The guidance provided is in effect since 1 November 2017Complete
CVMP and IWP to reflect on existing measures to promote availability of vaccines for epizootic diseases (foot-and-mouth disease, bluetonge and avian influenza) and if new or updated guidance is required, e.g. multi-strain dossier guidelineEMA published the draft revised guideline on the data requirements for multi-strain dossiers for inactivated vaccines against avian influenza (AI), blue tongue (BT) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) for consultation until 31 March 2018Ongoing
CVMP and IWP to reflect on ways to take into account different types of vaccine (e.g. live vs inactivated vaccines, food-producing vs companion animals) and different authorisation circumstances (e.g. normal or exceptional situations) as part of guidance on the benefit-risk assessment of veterinary medicinal productsCADVVA has begun reflections on this topicOngoing
Advise EC on potential changes to legal framework for veterinary medicines to help improve vaccine availabilitySteering group and CADVVA will provide advice on request, based on experience from implementing the action planTo be started


The action plan aims to implement the conclusions of a joint EMA and HMA workshop on improving the availability of veterinary vaccines in the EU of March 2015:

The workshop looked at how to improve availability while maintaining a high level of protection for animal and public health and the environment. As an important element, it examined whether the authorisation requirements for veterinary vaccines in the EU are proportionate to the benefits and risks of these products.

Pharmaceutical industry representatives provided an industry perspective on factors constraining the availability of veterinary vaccines in the EU, which is an important contribution to the reflections of the regulatory network.

The action plan aims to bring together several ongoing regulatory activities concerning availability into a single, overall plan to facilitate:

  • best use of resources in the European medicines regulatory network;
  • efficient cooperation between all actors involved, including marketing authorisation holders, regulatory authorities and the European Commission (EC).

Key actors

In February 2016, HMA and EMA established a joint steering group to strategically oversee the plan's implementation. Members include senior regulators from the network, with the EC and European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and HealthCare (EDQM) participating as observers. Industry observers will be invited to participate in relevant topics.

In March 2016, EMA's Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP) established an ad-hoc expert group on veterinary vaccine availability (CADVVA) to support the steering group in implementing the actions under CVMP responsibility. The expert group includes a small number of CVMP members with immunological expertise and experience in vaccine authorisation. It began its work in May 2016.

Along with the above groups, the HMA, CVMP and its Immunologicals Working Party (IWP), the veterinary Coordination Group for Mutual Recognition and Decentralised procedures (CMDv) and the pharmaceutical industry are expected to be actively involved in implementing the action plan.

EMA and HMA expect to organise joint workshops and focus groups to address certain high-priority issues.

The joint EMA and HMA steering group welcomes input from stakeholders on how best to improve veterinary vaccine availability in the EU. Stakeholders are invited to submit suggestions by email to: avv@ema.europa.eu

Other initiatives on veterinary vaccines

EMA has developed a number of tools and measures over time to promote timely access of veterinary vaccines to the EU market, which have helped to facilitate availability. These include:

Most of these tools were successfully used during the avian influenza epidemic in 2006 and bluetongue crisis in 2008, when the Agency called on existing resources to enable timely authorisation of four avian influenza and eight bluetongue vaccines under emergency circumstances.

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Contact point:

Stakeholders are invited to submit suggestions to: avv@ema.europa.eu