7 November 2001
Whitehall against EU medicine plan

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

WHITEHALL is to fight European Union plans to make all animal health products available only on prescription.

If European agriculture ministers and MEPs agree, the new directive would prevent farmers from buying sheep dips and wormers over the counter.

Other every day items would also have to be prescribed by a vet.

This would inevitably force up prices, according to a written Parliamentary answer from Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty.

UK officials should seek to modify the proposal to enable a flexible approach to the distribution of veterinary medicinal products, he said.

The message of support was welcomed by the National Farmers Union, which is fighting the proposal through the Animal Health Alliance.

NFU animal health chairman Neil Cutler said the current system was long-established and had worked extremely well.

Farmers have bought some animal medicines from professional dispensers without the need for a prescription for many years

Brussels should allow member states to operate systems most appropriate to local requirements, said NFU animal health adviser, Peter Rudman.

Pharmacy and Merchants List (PML) products, as the drugs in question are known, account for about 25% of the 357m animal health market.

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