Proposed EU vet medicine rules ‘a threat to competition’ – IFA

Proposed new EU regulations on veterinary medicines, which would see some being designated as prescription-only, would “severely impact on competition in the supply of anthelmintics to farmers”, it has been warned.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) said this evening (Thursday, November 12) that the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, as well as Irish MEPs, should “recognise the unique situation on the island of Ireland”.

The matter will be discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine this evening.

IFA animal health chairperson Pat Farrell said that these veterinary products should by prescribed by “suitably qualified persons”.

According to Farrell, the regulation also threatens the viability of licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies if the department doesn’t intercede.

“The Health Products Regulatory Authority [HPRA] has determined that anthelmintics must be categorised as POM from 2022 onwards, which means a prescription will have to be issued before the product can be purchased,” Farrell explained.

He added that “this raises serious issues for the competitive supply of these products if suitably qualified persons in the licensed merchants are not allowed to prescribe these products for farmers”.

The animal health chair pointed out that in Northern Ireland and the UK, such suitably qualified persons are entitled to prescribe these products, and he called for this exception to be followed in Ireland for the supply of anthelmintics.

The department cannot stand over the creation of a two-tier supply system on the island of Ireland that puts farmers here at a competitive disadvantage and jeopardises the future viability of licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies, who play a crucial role in supporting farmers and rural economies.

Farrell claimed that a failure to resolve this issue would lead to unregulated movement of products; remove competition in the supply of products; and undermine attempts to develop a coordinated approach to parasite control on farms.

“If this anti-competitive measure is not addressed, it will hand control of all veterinary medicine usage to one service provider, who also acts as the prescriber, and has an economic interest in the supply of products,” he warned.