Fears that new laws governing the sale of wormers would result in them only being available from vets have proved unfounded following the publication for consultation purposes of the long-awaited veterinary medicines regulations document.

The new regulations allow a suitably qualified person (SQP), including those currently licensed to sell wormers, such as saddlers, to prescribe the treatments.

At present, wormers are a “pharmacy and merchants list product” (PML). Soon, they will be prescription only, but classified as POM-VPM (Prescription Only Medicine — Veterinarian, Pharmacist, Merchant). Drugs such as Ventipulmin or Bute, for example, will be POM-Vs (Prescription Only Medicine— Veterinarian), only available from vets.

The regulations are a result of an EU ruling. They have been drawn up by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), an extension of DEFRA, in informal consultation with such bodies as the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and British Equine Trade Association (BETA).

“It is only a consultation document, not the final law — we really want constructive comments,” says Heather Oliver, head of vet medicinal products branch at the VMD.

Equine passports — and the declaration of whether the equine is for human consumption — means owners and their vets will have to keep strict records.

Animal owners will be banned from buying a POM-V from any other source besides a vet. While one vet may dispense another’s prescription, it will be illegal for owners to obtain these drugs from a pharmacy via the Internet.

The regulations have been cautiously welcomed by the vet industry, which recognises further room for debate on some issues.

“You have to be careful to distinguish between prescribing and supplying veterinary medicines,” says Alistair Barr of BEVA. “ When an owner physically buys a wormer, he is likely to be governed by convenience and price. Whether there should be some degree of veterinary advice on the topic of what, when and how is a separate issue.

“The position has shifted because until now pharmacists and agricultural merchants only ‘supplied’ PML products —they didn’t ‘prescribe’ them. The issue is to what extent ‘prescribing’ is an Act of Veterinary Surgery under the Veterinary Surgeons Act.”

Comments are invited by the VMD by 5 May and the regulations will come into force on 30 October 2005. Visit www.vmd.gov.uk to view the documents.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (13 January, ’05) 


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