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10 March 2008

Fort Dodge on target to produce Bluetongue 8 vaccine by May

Livestock farmers could shortly have another major player in the marketplace from which to obtain Bluetongue vaccine. Fort Dodge Animal Health has submitted a dossier on its BTV8 for VMD review which, if given the green light, will put the company on target to offer vaccine from May.

Fort Dodge, is already supplying Bluetongue vaccine to France and Spain, and has stepped up BTV8 production at its Dutch plant in Weesp, and Sligo, Ireland is expected to be approved imminently. By May, product availability is scheduled to reach 5m doses.

The company will offer species specific products: its cattle vaccine will have a higher antigen load needed to protect cattle while a separate vaccine for sheep will enable flock dosing programme booster vaccinations to be more cost effective. In addition, the Fort Dodge BTV8 vaccine is anticipated to not only provide protection from the disease but also block viraemia in sheep, a critical feature in arresting virus transmission.

"The UK livestock industry is becoming increasingly aware that the 22.5m doses of vaccine already ordered by Defra may not be in sufficient quantity or delivered in sufficient time to cover the 80% of cattle and sheep required for a control strategy to be effective," Fort Dodge Animal Health’s vet, David Bartram told a briefing in London, today Monday 10 March.

"The majority of that order is for farmers located in England, however Defra continues to push out the Protection Zone and ultimately it could cover the whole of England. On Friday 7 March, the Scottish Government held a stakeholder meeting to review the vaccine strategy for Scotland. They may place a tender for 12m doses, which means that Scottish farmers would also have access to BTV8 vaccine.

"In Wales 2.5 million doses from the initial Defra order has been reserved for the areas closest to the threat - however, if the disease spreads into Wales then further vaccine will be needed. In Northern Ireland the strategy is to use control methods to prevent the disease entering the province."

He adds: "We are an established and credible player in the BTV market in mainland Europe; our plants are at the forefront of BTV8 development and produce a highly effective product which will help prevent the spread of the disease. The news that we have submitted our BTV8 dossier to the VMD last week is a major milestone in the development of the product and means we are on track to provide much needed vaccine by May."

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Further information from FDAH’s Andrew Wylie on 01489 781711 / 07977 474244

Issued by Liz Snaith Agricultural Communications on 01743 344986 / 07974 678833