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Zinc oxide supplies to last for one year after June cut-off date

7th Jun 2022 / By Alistair Driver

The NPA has urged the pig sector to focus on the transition away from zinc oxide, after it was confirmed that supplies are likely to be available for another year only. 

pigsIn January, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) announced that the UK would be following the EU in the June 26 cut-off date for new marketing authorisations for zinc oxide. But, in a surprise move, it confirmed that zinc oxide products that are Qualified Person-released and in the supply chain by that date could be used until the end of their shelf life. This effectively meant up to two years.

DSM, which markets Pigzin in the UK, said it has been working closely with its customers to secure as much volume as possible ahead of June 26 and expects current supplies to be exhausted by mid-2023.

Alec Perrott, performance solutions manager at DSM British Isles, said: “We thank all the stakeholders involved in helping to provide a longer phasing out of the marketing authorisation for PigZin.

"We have been working closely with our customers to establish requirements and tirelessly across our supply chain to secure as much volume as possible to meet the demand. At the moment we expect to be able to provide a significant volume into the UK and Irish markets,” he said.

DSM has committed to fairly distributing the available material between all customers who have requested supply, according to historical and forecasted volumes. The company is advising PigZin users to liaise with their feed manufacturers and vets so supplies can be prioritised, as appropriate.

“We are working closely with the VMD to establish whether further marketing authorisations may be possible in the future, as well as continuing to engage with our customers on implementing alternative strategies,” Mr Perrott added.

Industry reaction

While the extra year is welcome, the pig sector had been hoping for supplies to last close to the full two years, but the company was, despite its efforts, unable to meet the sheer volume of demand.

Senior policy adviser Rebecca Veale said the NPA was very pleased to work with DSM, Pig Health and Welfare Council and VMD to secure the ability to sell zinc oxide after June 26 and appreciates the considerable work DSM has put into producing the product before this date.

"However, we had hoped for supply that would last longer and as such producers, vets and nutritionists will need to focus their minds on transitioning away from using zinc oxide – without a direct replacement this can be a challenging process," she said.

"NPA continues to work with PHWC and others to explore the science and evidence which may help inform strategies for weaner management, and also look at the potential for marketing authorisations longer-term.”

The Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) also welcomed the fact that zinc oxide supplies are available beyond this month but said it was 'disappointing' that there is only enough stock to last until mid-2023.

"We would like to commend DSM for making this happen and for making sure that it is fairly distributed across all their customers," said Jim Morris, a PPVS senior vice president

"Over the next year, vets will continue to review the latest evidence on the alternatives to zinc oxide in the prevention of post weaning scour in piglets, and especially data coming from those European countries not phasing out the product, and work with our clients to prevent this disease on their farms.

"Unfortunately there are no straightforward alternative strategies and each farm will need to have a bespoke plan most likely based on optimising the piglets' nutrition and environment at weaning."

The Allied Industries Confederation (AIC) stressed the need for fair and equitable distribution of the reduced product quantity and urged members, pig producers and vets to redouble their efforts to complete work on replacing it at the earliest opportunity.