Mail-order vet drugs spark fears

VETERINARY SURGEONS have warned farmers in the UK not to buy animal or human medicines – that are unlicensed for use here – from a mail-order firm in France.

A number of farmers have reported receiving the order forms from the company, Vets Supplies of Noroy-sur-Ourcq.

One of the farmers contacted his local vet Peter Edmondson who found that two of the antibiotics listed were not licensed in the UK.

Some of the others, Mr Edmondson said, were “downright dangerous in the wrong hands”.

“Do not be tempted to buy these,” he warned. “The stakes here are far too high to risk for the sake of saving a small amount of money.

“I fear that some farmers will believe they have a good deal and use these antibiotics on cattle.

“If residues from gentamycin antibiotics – a powerful treatment for mastitis – got into milk tanks at the processors, then heaven help the UK dairy industry,” he added.

Gentamycin is used mainly for treating infections in horses, but is also used to treat mastitis in cattle.

The product listed on the mail order form is not licensed for use outside Australia and gentamycin antibiotics are only used on cattle in places like the USA under the strictest rules, Mr Edmondson said.

“The milk withdrawal period in the USA is two months and meat withdrawal nine months,” he added.

“Some farmers will use these products without giving any thought to the implications in relation to food residues.

“As a practitioner my concern is for animal welfare. But my wider concern is for food safety.”

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate has now contacted the French health authorities, which are investigating the company.

A VMD statement read: “It is an offence under the Medicines (Restrictions on the Administration of Veterinary Medicinal Products) regulations 1994 to advertise for sale in the UK, including by mail order, any medicinal product that is not authorised for use in this country.

“Only veterinary medicines that display an authorisation identification beginning with Vm or PL followed by a five-digit code (for example Vm 04321/4001) or a code authorised with the prefix EU (which are authorised throughout the EU) may be used in the UK.”

A spokesman for Vets Supplies confirmed that the mail order forms originated from his company and that the name, address and contact details were correct.

But he denied that the company was targeting UK farmers and said its business was with Russia.

“We buy veterinary products on the world market and then sell them to the Russian market. I cannot explain how our forms ended up in the hands of UK farmers.”