IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said there is ample opportunity within the EU Veterinary Medicines Regulation to address the concerns of farmers, Licensed Merchants and veterinary pharmacies and resolve the concerns associated with the sourcing of anti-parasitic products.
Pat Farrell was commenting following what he described as very productive discussions with representatives of the Licensed Merchants Association, the veterinary pharmacies and ICOS.
He said all stakeholders agree a practical solution can be provided that recognises the professionalism of farmers, Suitably Qualified Responsible Persons in Licensed Merchant stores and pharmacists, while complying with the framework set out in the Regulations.
Pat Farrell said the unique situation that exists on the island of Ireland is also a significant factor that must be taken into account. Farmers in Northern Ireland will continue to access their anti-parasitic products (doses) without veterinary prescription. To avoid a two-tier system on the island, the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must take on board the views of the majority of stakeholders in resolving this issue,” he said.
“The easy option would place all of the control in one service provider, which is on public record as saying their economic dependence relies on selling medicines to farmers. It’s not credible under the objective of reducing usage that the only prescriber facilitated in the system has a stated strong economic interest in the sales of these products,” he said.
Pat Farrell said he does not support taking away the sales of veterinary medicines from vets. Vets are important in maximising competition in the supply of these products and economically viable veterinary practices are needed throughout the country to provide a service to farmers. He said all parties must be facilitated in active involvement in parasite control nationally.
“As farmers, we don’t want to be buying products that are not needed on our farms. Veterinary medicines are a significant annual input cost and we fully support targeted and more appropriate use of all medicines,” he said.
The IFA Chairman pointed to the advice of the HPRA, which recommended the importance of the involvement of all stakeholders in the provision of advice and guidance in parasite control to achieve better and more appropriate use of these products.
He said deviating away from this, based on the current supply channels for veterinary medicines, shows a very unfair competitive advantage rests with the prescriber for POM products.