EU Parliament decision ‘disappointing’ but all is not lost

UK - Wednesday's vote by the plenary session of the European Parliament to make all medicines for food-producing animals prescription-only (POM) was very disappointing, says the National Office of Animal Health, the organisation that represents animal medicine manufacturers in the UK.
calendar icon 19 December 2003
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“However, all is not lost as the UK government has pledged to the industry and the farming community that it will strive to implement the recommendation within the Marsh reportwhich would create a special list of so-called POM C-category animal medicines, which would include such routine treatments as sheep vaccines, wormers, teat dips etc," says Philip Sketchley, chief executive of the National Office of Animal Health

"This would allow AMTRA-qualified people to continue to supply essential preventative health medicines through registered merchants premises.

"It is vital that this recommendation is implemented to maintain the efficient distribution of these important disease preventing medicines. “We are encouraged by this commitment from the UK government and NOAH will support its rapid implementation,“ he said.

The Marsh Report, the Report of the Independent Review of Dispensing by Veterinary Surgeons of Prescription Only Medicines, was published in 2001, with the Government’s response released in 2002.

Recommendation 14 in the Report, which has been accepted in principle by the Government was as follows:

“We recommend (5.28) that the Minister should consider moving in the longer term towards adopting a system of classification that has two major categories Prescription-only Medicines and General Sale List products. We would suggest that the POM category should be divided into three sub-groups as follows:

  • POM (A) - medicines which may be administered only by a veterinary surgeon or under his/her direct supervision. In the latter instance the veterinary surgeon should be present at the time of administration and in a position to render assistance if necessary.

  • POM (B) - medicines which may be sold or dispensed by a veterinary surgeon to animals under his care after a prior clinical examination of the animal or animals; or sold or dispensed in a pharmacy in response to a written veterinary prescription.

  • POM (C) - medicines which may be sold or supplied by veterinarians for administration to animals under their care, or by pharmacists or, providing the purchaser can demonstrate evidence of competence in their use, by registered agricultural merchants. For this group of products a prior clinical examination of the animal(s) is not a requirement, however in cases where no evidence of competence is available the products in this category should only be made available by pharmacies, registered agricultural merchants or other registered outlets against a written prescription from a veterinarian.

If the key recommendation of the Marsh Report relating to POM (C) were not to be implemented, the EU Parliament’s decision would have several adverse impacts on animal health and welfare and the viability of the rural economy, says NOAH.

"If availability of preventive animal medicines were to be compromised, preventative animal health management - a key factor in Defra's Animal Health and Welfare Strategy - could well suffer."

Source: National Pig Association 19th December 2003

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