The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that farmers will be relieved that the introduction of a requirement for prescriptions for antiparasitic treatments and medicated feed for livestock has been deferred until June 1, 2022.

New legislation in relation to veterinary medicines was due to come into effect on January 28, 2022 but has now been pushed back for six months.

The new measures, required that all dosing products and medicated feeds should have a prescription and must be purchased from a trained individual in co-ops, veterinary pharmacies and veterinary practices.

ICSA Animal Health Committee chairperson, Hugh Farrell said: “This was meant to come in on January 28, 2022 but there has been a concerted effort by ICSA, other farm organisations, and the licensed merchants’ representatives against this.

“We have also succeeded in ensuring that the prescription shall be valid for one year, rather than an initial proposal of five days.”

“This will entail the implementation of a National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS) which will be based on an electronic app which will be used by veterinary practitioners.”

Clarity on vet prescriptions

Farrell was speaking following a meeting of the Anti-parasitic Resistance (APR) Stakeholder Group this week.

“We have received important clarification that licensed merchants and registered pharmacies, as well as vets, may continue to sell anti-parasitic treatments such as wormers,” he explained.

“ICSA has also got clarification that the vet shall prescribe on the basis of the active ingredient, which ensures that all generic products will continue to be available.” 

“In practice, the vet will issue the prescription and the farmer may choose to buy from the vet or bring the prescription elsewhere,” he added.

The farm organisation said that it still believes that the overall change in legislation in relation to prescriptions is “a sledgehammer measure being used to crack a nut”.

However, the ICSA acknowledges the combined efforts of farmers and licensed merchants and other suppliers to ensure that stakeholders have not ended up with an unworkable and restrictive process.

“Nonetheless, there is now a major onus on the department [of agriculture] to ensure that farmers are made fully aware of the new regime in good time. I am also concerned that the regime must be monitored in terms of its impact on competition and pricing,” Farrell added.

“ICSA is also concerned that the electronic app system needs to be trialled and that any potential problems are ironed out before this kicks in.”