The recent announcement that Zolvix™ is to become a POM-VPS product on 1st July has understandably sparked some controversy. The priority of the SCOPS principles is to reduce reliance on anthelmintics. However, effective anthelmintics remain a vital tool for sheep farmers and we wish to make our position on this change in classification clear.
The scientific evidence firmly supports the need to integrate new anthelmintic groups into worming strategies at an early stage. As a result, SCOPS has worked hard to promote the use of the new actives* as a vital part of worming programmes on all sheep farms since the launch of Zolvix 7 years ago (and Startect 5 years ago).
‘SCOPS does not consider simply sitting back and waiting for other anthelmintic groups to fail before using the new actives as a sensible option’. We must get these new actives used, they are not doing any good sat on the shelf’ says Lesley Stubbings. ‘This approach does not help to prolong the life of the older actives nor does it protect the new active itself, because heavy reliance on a new group once the others have failed will bring about accelerated resistance over a short period of time, as we have seen in the Netherlands**.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of SCOPS and others, the use of new actives (groups 4 and 5) has been woefully low, representing only around 1% of total wormer doses in the UK in 2015/16. ‘At this level there are two problems’ Lesley adds ‘Firstly, it is too little to have any significant impact on the development of Anthelmintic Resistance (AR) to other groups and secondly, there was a danger that these products may be withdrawn if revenue was overtaken by the cost of keeping them on the market. That would have been a disaster. Added to this is the stark fact that the situation with AR is getting worse year on year, with reports of resistance to the 3-ML group now becoming commonplace’***.
SCOPS recognizes that this change represents a significant challenge and will continue to work hard to provide the right guidance and training to SQPs, Pharmacists and Vets to ensure Zolvix is used responsibly and only in the recommended ways*, unless veterinary advice suggests otherwise for example on farms where triple resistance has been confirmed.
Plans for advanced training of SQPs are already in hand and will commence before 1st July. In addition, there will be a mechanism to monitor how Zolvix is being prescribed providing evidence of responsible use.
31st March 2017
*SCOPS advice on using the 4-Ad and 5 SI anthelmintic groups
**Monepantel resistance on Dutch sheep farms. Vet Rec Nov 2014;175 (17):418
***WAARD Project results. http://www.scops.org.uk/news-detail.php?NewsID=29
AHDA has always been keenly aware of the challenge within the sheep industry in regard to anthelmintic resistance. AHDA works very closely with SCOPS and supports the SCOPS principles that work towards the sustainable use of sheep wormers. Protection of the longevity of the traditional wormers is paramount and products such as Zolvix are needed to assist that.
The reclassification of Zolvix is thus good news for the longer-term health and welfare of the national sheep flock. It brings another very important element to the wider industry with pharmacist’s and SQPs being able to prescribe Zolvix from 1st July 2017 so ensuring that it can be readily available for responsible use.
More often than not, the farm animal SQP is the key link and contact with sheep farmers. Therefore the SQP is best placed to help inform and educate sheep farmers on the whole subject of anthelmintic resistance, as they see them on a regular basis. The SQP sector is a valuable resource for sheep farmers and AHDA is working closely with AMTRA and Elanco to ensure that all SQPs continue to provide a professional and knowledgeable service in the fight against anthelmintic resistance.
AHDA worked tirelessly since the introduction of Zolvix in 2010 to raise awareness of the importance of the need for advice and correct uptake of Zolvix by sheep farmers to help ease resistance pressure on the existing classes at POM-VPS. We note the BVA response and can re assure BVA that both organisations share the same objective of effective sustainable anthelmintic resistance strategies. Many of our members work closely with veterinary practices, who already employ over 700 SQPs themselves. The change of classification enables an essential part of that resistance strategy to develop and which will now ensure wider availability and access to Zolvix to sheep farmers via the SQPs fully trained, licensed and regulated channels of POM-VPS licensed animal medicines.