We had set up a call with Akos Végh from our Hungarian member company Alpha-Vet to talk about animal health and the role of the generics. Akos came to the video call telling he needed fifteen more minutes. There was an urgency. This was early days of the Russian attack to Ukraine, and hundred thousand people had fled to the neighbouring country. Many arrived with their companion animals. Hungary was welcoming the animals and helped them get vaccinated and microchipped. Alpha-Vet stepped in to provide veterinary medicines to vets receiving the animals at the border.
Akos, tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I am a veterinarian. It is my personal anniversary – I graduated 25 years ago. My first job was at the animal hospital of Alpha-Vet from which I continued to the Hungarian state veterinary service in charge of animal welfare. I was also responsible for the EU connections, which included participation in the official discussions on implementing EU legislation in Hungary. One day I would inspect a cattle farm and the next day I would be the representing my country in Brussels.
Fifteen years later, I returned to Alpha-Vet to a technical and marketing position. Two years ago, I took the role of the head of innovation in a new division where I am in charge of product research and development, as well as software development for farm animals.
Tell us more about this software for farm animals
The new veterinary medicines regulation has brought additional work for vets, for example data collection and monitoring of antibiotics prescriptions. We needed a digital system that would fulfil the new legal requirements.
The companion animal practices had had their own software for twenty years, but it was lacking from the farm animal side. This software, Doki for Farm, was developed to fill this gap. It is a complex and comprehensive hub and platform that includes all the veterinary activities from ordering, storing, use of medicines and equipment to stock management, examination and treatment management of animals. It will be integrated to the national database that is connected to the union product database (UPD).
We also have a companion animal practice management software, Doki for Vets, that is developed by vets for vets. It is well received as it helps save time and costs. We currently have a 95% market share.
Alpha-Vet has a long history. Can you tell us a bit more?
We are happy to celebrate 30th anniversary of Alpha-Vet this year. However, the company’s roots go back 50 years to an animal hospital in Székesfehérvár that was led by a respected forerunner veterinarian Dr. Schubert Zsuzsanna. This was a very advanced referral hospital that treated thousands of horses and cattle each year in addition to companion animals. For all these years it has stayed open 24/7. Currently, it is operating as a fully equipped companion animal hospital as part of Alpha-Vet (CT, X-Ray, ultrasound, endoscopy, etc.).
The manufacturing plant of Alpha-Vet in Bábolna goes back even longer, 110 years. At the time, it was the second veterinary medicines facility in Europe. Today it is EU GMP certified and produces powders, tablets, solutions, suspensions, including unique treatments for dogs’ skin and ear infections, and a variety of other veterinary medicines, mainly antiparasitics, antibiotics.
Alpha-Vet is still a family-owned company. How does that show?
It shows in our values. We are profit-oriented company led by value creation for our customers with a great flexibility to respond quickly to their needs. They know they can count on us in all circumstances (Covid, war, economic crisis). We are committed to continuously developing ourselves. For example, each month we have an obligation to read a book that is connected to our work – be it on leadership, managing human resources, product development or veterinary medicines. We also learn from each other, especially if someone shares new knowledge related to our work.
What would you say is the generic veterinary medicines’ role in animal health?
The generics bring convenience and availability to veterinary practices and farms. Novel presentations, new species or other indications provide a great addition to the availability veterinary medicines. Besides that, we can offer an uninterrupted supply which plays an important role in guaranteeing food-chain safety. As a former practitioner myself, I felt I always received a good value for money and my clients also appreciated this.
We need both, the originators and generics. Unfortunately, there are still old perceptions regarding generics among veterinarians and farmers. We should communicate more. This should also included in the veterinary studies so that vet students would gain a deeper understanding of product development and learn about the advantages of the generics. We already took some steps, and we are going to establish a supplementary course on product research and development to the veterinary curriculum.
Finally, what is your favourite animal and why?
We have a few rescued pygmy rabbits in our garden, after my sons found them in the nearby forest. As child, I dreamt of a white horse but we were living in an apartment. Since the elementary school, my goal was to become a veterinarian so that I could treat horses. That came true. I have been able to work at a clinical practice, be an inspector on animal welfare, analyse behaviour of pigs, and I did my PhD on an animal welfare topic. It has been a fantastic encompassing journey that has allowed to make a difference to animal health, environment and people. This is why I like being a vet.