10 November 1995

No to OP prescriptions call

MPs calls for organophosphorus sheep dips to be classified as prescription-only products have been rejected by distributors and makers.

The Animal Health Distrib-utors Association condemned the recommendation by the House of Commons agriculture committee as "outrageous" and "unjustifiable".

The National Office of Animal Health, which represents manufacturers, said it could not agree with the proposal because it did not fulfil clear UK and EU guidelines on prescription-only medicines .

But Lib Dem rural affairs spokesman Paul Tyler, convener of an all-party OP group, said the committees call for tighter controls "reflects growing alarm that the present arrangements are simply not safe enough". He said the OP group would shortly be renewing its plea for a phase-out of OPs and financial help to assist sheep producers transfer to safer scab treatments at a meeting with farm minister Douglas Hogg.

AHDA said any suggestion that vets should be granted an effective monopoly of supply would be totally inappropriate. It claimed there were continuing indications that some vets were supplying OPs to clients without a certificate of competence.

"It would simply be a reward for the minority of vets who have been undermining the credibility and effectiveness of the certificate of competence scheme for their own commercial benefit," an AHDA statement said.

Making OP dips available on prescription only would make no difference whatsoever to the precautions taken by the user, AHDA claimed. Instead action was needed to ensure no one used OP dips without a certificate.

lAbout 12,000 sheep farmers have a certificate of competence, MAFFs spokesman Lord Lucas told the House of Lords. "But we are certain there is no route whereby OP sheep dips can be purchased without one," he added. &#42