Department assurances for licensed merchants ‘less than convincing’

Assurances provided by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the challenges facing licensed merchants in relation to incoming veterinary medicine regulations have been described as “less than convincing” and “profoundly disappointing” by one TD.

Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan was speaking following her engagement with department officials at an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture debate on the EU regulation covering the prescription of certain veterinary medicinal products.

“It was made absolutely clear by the department officials that the question of Ireland seeking a derogation on the prescription issue is simply not going to happen,” she said.

Indeed, there seems to be a genuine lack of political and departmental will to tackle the issue at the level of European legislation and a parallel determination to maintain the precedence of the European view on this matter.

“I also think that many licensed merchants will strongly object to the department’s claims that they found a broad lack of compliance around the provisions dealing with ‘Responsible Persons’,” the TD claimed.

Deputy Nolan noted that the department officials did suggest that a new system of electronic prescribing may be put in place to allow licensed merchants to source their prescriptions through a number of points.

However, she claimed that these officials “provided not one iota of data” in relation to the costs associated with this proposal and how it could hit the farmers and the merchants.

“I also put it to the department officials that the EU Regulation was passed to the 27 permanent representatives to iron out any major difficulties and obstacles.

“At that stage the derogation clause was drafted, scrutinised and agreed with Ireland joining others to support the inclusion of the derogation.

“This action proves Ireland needed to avail of the derogation to enshrine the ‘Responsible Persons’ in future prescribing.

Why then was the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine reneging on all that work and adopting the opposite view in light of the fact that the CVO [Chief Veterinary Officer] and HPRA [Health Products Regulatory Authority] recommended a multi-stakeholder approach to address resistance?

“I have received commitments that these and the other issues I raised will be dealt with specifically by the department.

“In the meantime and after today’s debate one thing is clear; licensed merchants will continue to have an uphill battle in terms of trying to seek concrete and definitive supports from the department on this issue,” concluded deputy Nolan.