7 September 2001
Clampdown on veterinary products?

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

HIGHER prices for animal medicines are on the cards, if Brussels succeeds in ending the UK system of selling veterinary products, manufacturers have warned.

Proposed new legislation is to be forwarded to the European Farm Council and European parliament during the next few weeks.

It would mean health products for food producing animals would be sold as “prescription only medicines” (POM) and not through agricultural merchants.

Roger Dawson, secretary general of the Animal Health Distributors Association, said hundreds of agricultural merchants were under threat.

Many merchants make a significant part of their incomes through selling “pharmacy and merchants list” (PML) medicines, he said.

Dr Dawson claims that the proposals would destroy the jobs of at least 3500 people who are qualified to sell PMLs.

It would also leave vets as the sole suppliers, resulting in higher prices for farmers as well as illegal trading and a lack of choice.

PML products account for 25% of the UKs 357m animal health market.

The National Farmers Union said ending the selling system would make it more difficult for farmers to obtain everyday medicines and would put up costs.

Manufacturers, represented by the National Office of Animal Health, agree, arguing that the new system would have animal welfare implications.

“If farmers have to get a vet to inspect every animal before they are prescribed a medicine, some may be tempted not to bother,” said a spokeswoman.

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