The Competition Commission is investigating complaints that the cost of veterinary medicines is higher in the UK than elsewhere in Europe
The Competition Commission has been asked the Director of Fair Trading to report on the price and supply of veterinary medicines in this country.
The investigation follows complaints by farmers on the high costs of veterinary medicines here in comparison with Europe.
The commission is now gathering evidence and wants to hear the views of horse, pet and other animal owners on their experiences.
Denise Kingsmill, deputy chairwoman of the commission, said : ” We urge horse and pet owners to look at our website and if they have something to say to get in touch with us via email or letter. We want to make sure that consumers have a voice.”
The commission, which is due to submit its report by January 2003, says it want to determine whether a complex monopoly exists in the sector and whether it operates against the public sector.
Apart from comparative costs with Europe, the commission says other complaints indicate there was a lack of parity in the pricing of animal medicines.
“In somecases this meant that customers were not able to distinguish between the cost of the medicines and the cost of the veterinary consultation.”
According to the report, there have also been complaints that it was difficult to obtain a prescription for medicines that could be dispensed by a pharmacy or some other outlet, other than directly from a vet.
Mark Collins,spokesman for the British Equine Veterinary Association said: “We would like to see a more level playing field with costs in Europe but the increased price over here is due to factors in the supply chain outside the veterinary profession. Increased prices can’t always be explained by exchange rates.
“There may not be much competition in the market place between veterinary surgeons and pharmacists, but there is plenty of competition between veterinary practices. If this is classed as a monopoly, it is working in favour of the client.”
For more information or to voice your views, visit: www.competition-commission.org.uk
Email your views to email@example.com