There are a wide range of roles for public health vets in ‘industry’. In this section we are thinking primarily about roles in the meat processing sector and the pharmaceutical industries.

The role VPH vets play in the meat processing industry.

Many roles may be quite bespoke working directly, for example, for a meat processor company where roles may cover food safety, technical, animal welfare, exports, management, interaction with competent authorities and regulatory bodies, and ‘anything’ veterinary! These industry roles may be for more experienced public health vets who have been OV’s, but entering industry from the OV route is not always necessary and VPH vets are in many animal welfare functions in major processors including senior roles.

Working in the meat processing industry can be professionally rewarding as small changes and influence can often have a large effect or impact.

(VPHA Past President {Competent Authority} and Current President {Industry}).


Vets working across the meat processing industry often additionally contribute significantly to related groups, organisation and associations playing a key public health role. The following bodies all have significant public health veterinary involvement:

  • BMPA {British Meat Processors Association} (Animal Welfare Committee, Beef & Sheep Committee, Legal and Technical Advisory Committee);
  • AIMS {Association of Independent Meat Suppliers};
  • FIIA {Food Industry Initiative on Antimicrobials};
  • SAMW {Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers};
  • NIMEA {Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association},
  • and of course, the VPHA (!).

Temple Grandin (world renowned animal welfare expert) with an industry Group Veterinary Animal Welfare officer.

The role VPH vets play in the animal health (pharmaceuticals) industry.

The role of public health vets in the pharmaceutical/animal health industry is extremely important and is a rewarding career path.

We have given an extensive review below of what the industry does and what the role of Public Health vets is within that and what are the skills necessary required.

About the animal health industry

The animal health industry plays a key part in:

  • Farm and companion animal welfare
  • Safe food for consumers
  • Farm sustainability and resilience
  • Healthier pets supporting human wellbeing
  • Environmental protection
  • Scientific innovation

One Health and the animal health industry

The animal health industry and licensed veterinary medicines are a force for good in society:

  • Helps to deliver One Health Goals.
  • Products that protect animal health and welfare by preventing and treating disease.
  • Products that prevent disease in animals thus protecting humans from zoonotic disease.
  • Delivery of food security and helping ensure availability of safe, affordable, nutritious food.
  • Reduction of emissions from animals used for food production- healthy animals have a lower ‘carbon footprint’; availability of a wide range of veterinary medicines helps with climate change mitigation.

Common roles for veterinary surgeons in the animal health industry

Veterinary surgeons fill a wide range of roles in the animal health industry. Examples of the types of posts that vets fill are as follows:

  • Technical Services
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Research and Development
  • Marketing and Sales

Technical Services Vet

Technical Services Vets will usually have good clinical expertise in the sector they are responsible for (e.g. dairy/equine/companion animals), with sub specialisation also highly valued e.g. dermatology/cardiology/microbiology/parasitology, reflecting the trend towards specialisations within the veterinary profession. Examples of the types of duties they are required to fulfil includes the following:

  • Financial management at practice/corporate level.
  • Training of veterinary/sales/marketing staff.
  • Delivering presentations re new product launches at seminars/CPD events.
  • Supporting customers on correct, technical use of product e.g. implementation of complex vaccination programmes for disease eradication purposes in livestock/fish.
  • Developing Key Opinion Leader resource & liaising with institutions or universities.
  • Handling cascade/off label use queries.
  • Reviewing and providing input into promotional material for marketing campaigns, ensuring compliance with legislative and self-regulatory Code of Practice for Promotion requirements.

Regulatory Affairs Vets

Regulatory Affairs Vets are required to have regular dialogue and interface with regulatory authorities regarding management of product licenses. Some of their day-to-day work would include the following:

  • Composition and submission of regulatory dossiers for both new authorisations and variations to existing authorisations.
  • Responsibilities for ensuring packaging and labelling information is correct, up to date and in compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Ensuring sales and marketing campaigns are in compliance with legal requirements and Codes of Practice.

Pharmacovigilance Vets

Vets are frequently employed in the Pharmacovigilance sections within animal health companies. Examples of their duties includes the following:

  • Receiving reports of suspected adverse events involving veterinary medicines. An adverse event is any observation in animals, whether or not considered to be product-related, that is unfavourable and unintended and that occurs after any use of a VMP veterinary medicinal product.
  • Carrying out causality assessments on such reports i.e. assessing is the product probably/possibly/unlikely/negligible chance of being the cause of the reported event.
  • Monitoring global suspect adverse events data.
  • Interface with members of the public/vets/farmers to discuss suspected adverse events.
  • Fulfilment of animal health company legislative requirements regarding processing of such reports and presenting data to the regulatory authorities as required by veterinary medicines legislation.

Vets in Research and Development

Vets are frequently employed in R and D within animal health companies with roles that will include, amongst others, the following responsibilities:

  • Providing input into design of R&D programmes.
  • Oversight of field based clinical trials.
  • Provide 24/7 veterinary care and ensure health monitoring programme is in place at research establishments.
  • Have knowledge of the husbandry, housing and welfare needs of the species kept research establishments, including the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease and the impact of housing and husbandry systems on the welfare and needs of an animal.
  • Be actively involved, on a day-to-day basis, in safeguarding animal welfare, including provision of advice on the ‘3Rs’ (reduce, replace, refine animal testing).
  • Understand and ensure compliance with legislative requirements.

Vets in Marketing and Sales

Vets frequently work in product sales and marketing within animal health companies where they are involved in the following duties:

  • Design and delivery of marketing campaigns in liaison with technical and regulatory departments.
  • Product strategy and forecasting.
  • Liaison with PR and marketing agencies that work with animal health companies.
  • Dialogue with customers at CPD events, congresses etc.
  • Development and agreement on commercial contracts (sales agreements).
  • Delivery of presentations on product features e.g. at vet practice visits.
  • Management of relationships with key customers; increasingly key with large corporate customers.

Skills and knowledge needed for vet roles in animal health industry

  • Clinical practice knowledge i.e. the customer.
  • Expertise in species and within species sub specialities e.g. parasitology/infectious diseases etc.
  • Communications skills, both written and verbal including ability to present to groups of peers/practitioners/regulators/experts etc.
  • IT skills- obviously relevant across the board but some roles e.g. Regulatory/Pharmacovigilance require very specific IT skills, use of databases etc.
  • Commercial, business management and financial expertise e.g. for forecasting/budgeting in commercial roles.
  • Epidemiological and statistical knowledge.
  • Knowledge of regulatory framework and network for veterinary medicines.
  • Political knowledge and awareness.