There is just over a month left before April 1, by when all veterinary practice premises from which medicines are to be supplied need to be registered with the RCVS.

Just over 4,500 premises have applied for registration since November 2008. This includes about 750 premises not previously listed with the College, demonstrating the usefulness of the process, which will enable the government to fulfil its obligations under European law to maintain and improve traceability of, and accountability for, veterinary medicines.

From April 1 it will be an offence for a veterinary surgeon to supply a veterinary medicinal product from any practice premises not registered with the RCVS. On conviction, those committing the offence may be liable to prosecution, which may include a fine or prison sentence. Veterinary surgeons convicted of criminal offences are also considered by the College’s Preliminary Investigation Committee to decide whether the conviction would affect the individual’s fitness to practise and should be referred to the Disciplinary Committee.

In addition to ensuring their practice premises are registered, veterinary surgeons also need to keep a record of other places where medicines are stored, so these can be considered during an inspection – such as vets’ homes or cars, or perhaps a charity premises from which veterinary work is carried out and where medicines are stored. Such records will not be published, although some of those premises may need to be registered in their own right.

Practices accredited under the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme will be inspected by the RCVS; non-compliance with medicines standards will be dealt with under the rules of the Scheme. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) will carry out inspections of other registered premises to ensure compliance with the Veterinary Medicines Regulations. Where non-compliance is noted, the VMD will take a proportionate enforcement approach ranging from issuing advice to, where appropriate, serving an improvement notice or seizing medicines.

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