The introduction of a new national veterinary prescription system (NVPS) has commenced on a phased basis involving a small number of vets.

These vets will test the software required to run the NVPS and provide feedback to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The DAFM confirmed to Agriland that phase one of the NVPS commenced on a pilot basis on January 31 and will last for four to five weeks.

During this time, vets’ already “dispensed” prescriptions will be recorded on the new system.

This will facilitate refining the system based on the feedback the DAFM receives from vets involved in the pilot phase, according to the department.

“The veterinary practitioners using the system for the pilot will be pivotal in assisting the DAFM identify areas where we can improve our guidance in relation to the overall use of the system, and with its practical application,” a spokesperson for the DAFM said.

The aim of the NVPS, according to the DAFM, is to provide a national, secure prescribing system that will record all information required to prescribe and dispense prescription-only veterinary medicines (POMs).

It falls within the remit of a recently introduced Europe-wide veterinary-medicine regulation, part of which requires member states to collect and report on antimicrobial usage.

NVPS phase two

In March, the DAFM will commence phase two of the NVPS, by increasing the numbers involved in the prescribing trial; expanding its functionality to allow for the recording and dispensing of medicated feed prescriptions; recording un-dispensed prescriptions; and providing access to the system for all dispensing agents.

The DAFM said it is currently engaging with all co-ops and licensed merchants and pharmacy-dispensing outlets to ensure that those who are qualified to dispense veterinary medicines are appropriately registered before this phase commences.

In April, under phase three, the DAFM said it plans to release functionality of the NVPS to all veterinary practitioners so they can familiarise themselves with the system.

“This phase opens up the NVPS to all stakeholders on a voluntary basis,” according to a DAFM spokesperson.

Non-mandatory for now
The NVPS remains non-mandatory until June 2022 and, until then, vets can continue to create and issue prescriptions in their current paper format. Once they have access to NVPS functionality – between now and June – a vet can use either system to generate prescriptions.

According to the DAFM, vets and dispensing outlets currently using proprietary prescription and dispensing software can continue to liaise with the department on finalising the development of the software required to run the NVPS.

This means that they can continue to use their current software while background software functionality will be implemented so that prescriptions and dispensing actions are recorded on the NVPS.

The NVPS is part of the “national and global efforts to reduce the risk of the development of anti-microbial resistance”, a DAFM spokesperson said.