The BVA has welcomed the tightening up of sales of veterinary medicines on the internet, but is disappointed that the advertising of antimicrobials to farmers will continue.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the tightening up of sales of veterinary medicines on the internet, but is disappointed that the advertising of antimicrobials to farmers will continue.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) published a response to the public consultation on the Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMRs) on December 30.
The new regulations, which come into force in April 2011, introduce new controls on internet pharmacies – meaning that only approved websites will be legally allowed to dispense and supply veterinary medicinal products. These controls will come into force in April 2012.
VMD director of operations John Fitzgerald said: “From April 1, 2012, if people are buying vet medicines from online retailers they should only use websites registered with VMD so they know the medicine is correctly prescribed and dispensed for their pets.”
Customers will be able to see the approved status of veterinary medicine websites by looking out for a logo which all registered websites will display. The new logo will contain a unique number and will link back to the VMD website.
The BVA supports the use of a logo on approved websites. Association president Harvey Locke said: “Without proper regulation online pharmacies could be sourcing drugs from overseas and selling counterfeit medicines that look genuine to unsuspecting pet owners. These medicines are placebos at best and dangerous at worst.
“We therefore welcome the VMD’s decision to clamp down on irresponsible online retailers and provide a clear logo for approved websites that will give pet owners confidence.
“We have also asked the VMD to put a stop to the increasing problem of prescription fraud and we hope the tighter regulation announced today will be a step towards achieving that aim.”
In light of increasing concerns about the growth of antimicrobial resistance the VMD consultation also canvassed views on restricting the advertising of antimicrobials to farmers. The BVA supported this measure as a sensible approach to the responsible use of antimicrobials.
However, following a consultation on a range of proposals, the new regulations will continue to allow antimicrobials to be advertised to farmers – a move which has disappointed the BVA.
Mr Locke said: “New antimicrobials are heavily advertised by pharmaceutical companies to vets and farmers so it is vital that the message of responsible use is not lost.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a serious issue for both animal and human health and we are disappointed that the VMD is not restricting the advertising of these products to farmers. The pharmaceutical companies must now undertake to advertise responsibly.
“Ultimately, it is the veterinary surgeon who will make the decision on which veterinary products to use and vets and farmers should work together to ensure antimicrobials are used prudently and responsibly.”