Warning over cross-border trade in veterinary drugs

Warning over cross-border trade in veterinary drugs

A proposed law which would force farmers in the Republic to get veterinary prescriptions for antiparasitic drugs, including for fluke and worm doses will open the floodgates to cross-border trade, it has been warned.

The Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society, Independent Licensed Merchants Association and Irish Pharmacy Union have all urged the Republic’s Department of Agriculture to row back on plans to exclude pharmacists and trained “responsible persons” as prescribers of antiparasitic medicines from December 1 this year.

Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee on the implementation of the new EU Veterinary Medicines Regulation, stakeholders warned a failure to align the Republic’s prescribing/dispensing regime with Northern Ireland’s will result in “the development of an unnecessary and damaging black market for veterinary medicines”.

In NI pharmacists, vets, and “suitably qualified persons” can all prescribe antiparasitics

ILMA’s Barry Larkin said: “Agri retailers have many concerns around this bill, however, it’s the availability of goods from Northern Ireland that most puts aspects of this bill in question.

“An all-Ireland approach would be better, or at least to have the same processes in place on both sides of the border. Currently, a farmer can go into Northern Ireland, purchase whatever antiparasitic product they want over the counter and bring it back across the border — they may be in breach of their Bord Bia schemes by using that product, but if they don’t record the use, there’s no problem. If the bill is introduced in its current form, that will increase any amount.”

ILMA’s Ollie Ryan added: “They [the Department] will be leaving the floodgates open because the interpretation is different over the border.

“Any merchant in the border area would be totally wiped out and that will trickle down the country because if it’s easily accessed in the North, that’s where you’ll go for it.”