The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) will “work with stakeholders” to regulate veterinary medicines under new EU laws to be introduced next year – which will limit the use of pharmaceuticals and anti-parasitic (dosing) products from 2022 onwards.
The Council will include definitions of terms contained in the new laws – which will be referred to as the EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation 2019/6 – in the VCI Code of Conduct.
The VCI said it was working with stakeholders to review the definition of various terms in the EU Veterinary Medicine Regulations 2019/6.
The EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation 2019/6, which will come into force in January 2022, will restrict the use of veterinary drugs, antibiotics and antimicrobial agents in food-producing animals in the interests of public health, animal health and animal welfare.
The new regulation is being introduced to address the ongoing threat of antibiotic resistance (AMR), which the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified as one of the top ten public health threats in the world.
The main drivers of AMR are the abuse and overuse of antimicrobial agents. Antimicrobial resistant organisms are commonly introduced into humans through the food supply chain due to the overuse of antimicrobial agents / antibiotics in animals.
AMR calls for antimicrobials / antibiotics to be reserved for use in certain circumstances, the council stresses.
Veterinarians are only allowed to prescribe and dispense prescription drugs, including antibiotics, to animals in their care, the council stressed, adding:
An animal is considered to be under the care of a veterinarian when certain requirements are met to ensure that the prescribing veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal and its surroundings to ensure safe and informed prescribing in the interests of animal welfare and public health.
In addition to the new EU regulations, additional veterinary drugs require a prescription from a veterinarian, according to the VCI.
Following a related report, the council stated: “It is recommended that anti-parasitic medicines require a veterinary prescription from 2022 to protect the effectiveness of anti-parasitic medicines.”
The council said it was “working with all relevant stakeholders on this issue and taking its responsibilities in the area of veterinary drug regulation very seriously”.
Code of Conduct
Noting that all veterinarians in Ireland are bound by the Veterinary Council Code of Conduct, the VCI noted that this code is currently being updated and that the last full review will take place in 2010.
Niamh Muldoon, CEO and Registrar of the VCI, said:
“The EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation 2019/6, which comes into force in January 2022, will represent a positive step forward in the fight against AMR, one of the greatest threats to humans and animals.
“The Veterinary Council recognizes the responsibility of the role it will play in this area as the regulator for veterinarians in Ireland.
The Council has clear and strict rules for the prescribing of veterinary medicines and will continue to ensure that veterinarians adhere to the highest ethical standards through education and enforcement in this area.
“The Council will work with all relevant stakeholders in the run-up to the entry into force of these rules,” concluded Muldoon.