Interview with Elsa Vecino, EGGVP’s technical director, on her 10-year work anniversary.
Elsa Vecino and Tuco
- You are the technical director in EGGVP. Tell us a bit about your work.
My responsibilities are three-fold. First, I provide our members technical, regulatory and scientific information on EU issues that impact veterinary medicines, and more widely on animal and public health, and environment. I prepare and consolidate our comments and positions to guidelines and legislation that impacts our sector.
Secondly, I organise regular trainings to our members on EU technical and regulatory issues.
Thirdly, I keep contact with the stakeholders, authorities and peer organisations and represent EGGVP in meetings and events where I communicate our messages.
- What is your background and how did you end up in Brussels and in EGGVP?
I am veterinarian by education. I worked in Barcelona with Adiprem, Spanish national branch of FEFANA, a feed industry organisation. When they decided to centralise their staff to Brussels I was invited to move. At some point, an opportunity opened with EGGVP, which gave me a chance to widen the scope and to work with veterinary medicines.
- You have been in EGGVP for half of its existence, how has the association changed during this time? What was it like when you started?
The association has not changed too much. We have gained new members and are currently quite representative in Europe. Our operations have become more professional, and the board is much more involved in a day-to-day activities. The working groups and task forces are better organised.
As an association, we are more visible and are now recognised officially as the other EU stakeholder in the veterinary medicines sector.
Ten years back, there was hardly anything digital. Video conferences have only became more frequent during the recent years, and of course now with covid-19 they are the new normal.
- What would you call your biggest achievement in EGGVP during the past ten years?
When I first started, EGGVP had not practically done any advocacy. During 2014-16, I adapted the association to new lobbying practices and procedures when the new veterinary medicines legislation entered into pipeline. The networks had to be built quickly in order to have a say and be part of the negotiations. This was a huge step for visibility and influence. EGGVP has also become a trusted stakeholder with a good reputation for the EU authorities.
The second important development for me was the launch of our first ever market study. We needed quantitative and qualitative data on the sector. It was a success of which we are now preparing a second edition.
- What have you enjoyed the most in your work?
I really enjoy the daily contact with members and taking projects forward. My calling is to serve people. Taken that we operate in a complicated environment, I am happy to be able to help our members, many of which are SMEs. They form a great community that collaborates and shares information even if they may be competitors. They have shown a lot of trust in EGGVP and in one another. We are a small sector where everyone benefits from working together.
- What has been challenging and what have you learnt from that?
Veterinary medicines are a sophisticated and technically complex regulatory area. At times, it has been difficult to motivate others that are far from Brussels to find resources and time to work in EU files in addition to their own daily workload. Thanks to the good collaborative culture among the members, a dedicated board, and extra energy, we have managed to finalise important projects.
We have managed to make a great impact on the society in terms of supporting access to animal health through affordable treatments and covering species and geographic areas the originators do not cover.
- How has the EU advocacy changed during your time?
The Lisbon Treaty in 2009 brought along the secondary legislation with implementing and delegated acts and trilogues. The legislative process turned into a labyrinth, complicated and little transparent. The transparency register was a welcome initiative.
Today, to get your voice heard, the messaging needs to be focused and clear. The social media we have today, did not exist ten years ago.
- What about the sector, what has changed in the European generic veterinary medicines industry?
The generics and added value medicines sector has been growing steadily and has a good coverage in Europe.
Introduction of OneHealth concept and series of societal concerns related to environmental, and antimicrobial resistance have changed the focus to risk-benefit analysis, and from treatment towards prevention. The industry has adapted to these changes, while trying to secure the availability of medicines that are needed.
- EGGVP’s members produce medicines for a wide variety of animal species, including minor ones. What is your favourite animal and why?
A dog, for its loyalty and unconditional love for humans. I have almost always had a dog and now we recently got a puppy to the family. He is called Tuco and he has totally conquered our hearts.