An SQP (suitably qualified person) working in Dorset has been found to be in “breach of professional standards” over a brochure on treating parasites in sheep and cattle.
SQPs – who are entitled to prescribe and/or supply POM-VPS, NFA-VPS and AVM-GSL medicines – are regulated by the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA).
According to AMTRA, Peter Barker of Barkers Animal Health in Wimborne was found to be in breach after “serious concerns” were raised about a brochure he produced for customers.
AMTRA secretary general Stephen Dawson said: “In their work helping farmers with the health of their livestock, SQPs have to follow a strict code of practice.
“Following the complaint about Mr Barker, AMTRA’s professional standards committee concluded his brochure on treatment of parasites in sheep and cattle fell short of what would be expected from a responsible SQP.”
According to Mr Dawson, the committee found “several instances” in the brochure that could result in overuse of medicines. There was also no mention of:
- the importance of consideration of the individual circumstances of the farm or animals
- the potential resistance status of the parasites in question
- the principles of responsible use of medicines
Mr Dawson said: “We were particularly concerned the brochure appeared to encourage use of products beyond what is permitted by the approved product label. This is not only contrary to regulations on veterinary medicines, but misuse or overuse of medicines could harm the health of the animals in our care.
“The medicine’s authorisation and associated product label are based on research and product knowledge and are there for a reason. Off-label prescription of animal medicines can only be done by a veterinary surgeon in limited circumstances and not by an SQP.”
Mr Barker was sent a letter of warning by the authority, the highest sanction available short of removal from the SQP register. Under AMTRA procedures, Mr Barker had the right of written or verbal appeal following the letter, but no appeal was received. The case has, therefore, been closed.
“Such complaints against SQPs are rare,” said Mr Dawson. “In fact, AMTRA has only considered four complaints in the last four years.
“However, the professional status of SQPs is founded on principles of responsible use of animal medicines.”