According to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), there are “many ways” under the EU’s Veterinary Medicines Regulation to address concerns of farmers, licensed dealers and veterinary pharmacies about upcoming changes in veterinary drug regulations.
As has been extensively reported over the last few months, anti-parasitic veterinary drugs that were previously not a prescription in Ireland will become a prescription from January 1, 2022 due to the EU regulation.
This has raised concerns that licensed distributors and other qualified retailers of these products could be foreclosed from the market, with veterinarians playing both the prescriber and seller roles.
However, the IFA believes that a solution can be found that will address these concerns while complying with the rules.
Animal Health Association Chairman Pat Farrell commented after “very productive discussions” with representatives from the Licensed Merchants Association, Animal Pharmacies and the Irish Co-operative Organization Society (ICOS).
According to Farrell, everyone involved agrees that a practical solution can be provided that “recognizes the professionalism of farmers; appropriately qualified responsible persons in licensed dealer businesses; and pharmacists in compliance with the framework laid down in the regulation ”.
“The unique situation on the island of Ireland is also a key factor that needs to be taken into account,” he emphasized.
Farmers in Northern Ireland will continue to have access to their anti-parasitic products without a veterinary prescription.
“To avoid a ‘two tier’ system on the island, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue must take into account the views of the majority of stakeholders in resolving this issue,” argued the IFA Chairman for Animal Health.
“The simple option would put all control over to a service provider who is publicly aware that its economic dependency depends on selling medicines to farmers,” he noted.
Farrell continued, “It is unbelievable that the only prescriber supported in the system has a stated strong economic interest in selling these products to reduce consumption.”
However, he said he was not in favor of preventing veterinarians from selling the products and said veterinarians are “important to maximize competition in the supply of these products”.
“Economically viable veterinary practices are needed across the country to provide service to farmers. All parties must be supported at the national level to actively participate in parasite control, ”argued Farrell.
He added: “As farmers, we don’t want to buy products that are not needed on our farms. Veterinary drugs cause a considerable annual expense and we unreservedly support the targeted and more appropriate use of all drugs. ”
He noted the advice of the Health Products Regulation Authority (HPRA), which recommended that all stakeholders be involved in providing advice and guidance on how to control parasites.
“Deviating from this, based on the current supply channels for veterinary medicine, shows that the prescribing doctor has a very unfair competitive advantage,” concluded Farrell.
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