The APPG’s meeting on medicines labelling and moving away from animal-derived ingredients in medicine

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» The APPG’s meeting on medicines labelling and moving away from animal-derived ingredients in medicine

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism met to discuss the importance of improving medicines labelling and moving away from animal-derived ingredients in medicine.

On Tuesday 11 July 2023 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism, sponsored by the Vegan Society and V for Life, held a meeting to discuss why clear labelling of medical products which use animal derived ingredients is important to the vegan and vegetarian community, as well as members of many of the UK’s largest faith groups. The session heard from a range of speakers, including clinicians, patients and industry professionals, who explored what action can and should be taken to improve labelling and encourage the use of non-animal derived alternatives.

Chair of the Group, Christina Rees MP, opened the meeting by speaking about her own experience as a sepsis survivor and how she was uncomfortable not knowing which products had been give to her intravenously and what was in them. A vegan patient, Evie Sier, also shared her negative experiences of attempting to access vegan medicine for her dilated cariomyopathy condition. Moussa Haddad, Head of Research and Policy at V for Life, spoke about the philisophical beliefs of veganism and vegetarianism, explaining how they are more than diets or dietary preferences.  We also heard from Yasmin Aktar, Community Engagement lead at the British Islamic Medical Association who emphasised that the dignity and respect of people is not being upheld in this issue, resulting in Muslims having a lack of trust in the current health system. Dr Ishani Rao, a trainee GP, elaborated on this by explaining how this issue is also affecting her patients by reducing the amount of prescription uptake. Finally, Paul Fleming, Technical Director for the British Manufacturers Association, suggested there has been a lack of progress in the industry as pharmacies tend to procure medicines directly themselves, whereas medicines in hospitals will be procured centrally, taking into account pricing foremost. Paul also mentioned medicines information is buried at the moment through the information leaflet, which is accessed too late, when the patient has got the medication already. However, one encouraging development was mentioned: a group of organisations, including the MHRA, NHS England, the Health Department and 40 pharma companies, are working to make electronic patient information a reality within the next few years, which could be a potential engagement point for interested groups to feed into.

The Vegan Society Head of Policy, Campaigns and Research, Claire Ogley, agreed to follow up with Paul on engaging with these groups to encourage more credible information and clear labelling for those avoiding animal products. Claire added that The Vegan Society recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use in a non-vegan world. Sometimes, patients may have no alternative to medications manufactured using animal products. Even if other medications are available, they may be less effective, have more side effects or be unsuitable for healthcare needs. While it can be upsetting to compromise beliefs, The Vegan Society encourages vegans to look after their health and that of others, enabling them to be effective advocates for veganism.

APPG meeting group photograph

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