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New animal remedies rules will add €80m to vet costs

by 5m Editor
30 August 2005, at 12:00am

IRELAND - The IFA Animal Health Chairman Michael Flynn said, "the Department's Draft Animal Remedies Regulations requiring that all veterinary medicines be sold under a prescription only regime, where vets only will write the prescriptions, will escalate veterinary costs by up to €80 million and will place an intolerable burden on dairy and livestock farmers while at the same time do nothing to benefit consumers.

New animal remedies rules will add €80m to vet costs - IRELAND - The IFA Animal Health Chairman Michael Flynn said, "the Department's Draft Animal Remedies Regulations requiring that all veterinary medicines be sold under a prescription only regime, where vets only will write the prescriptions, will escalate veterinary costs by up to €80 million and will place an intolerable burden on dairy and livestock farmers while at the same time do nothing to benefit consumers.

Mr. Flynn said, "this decision by the Department to confine prescription writing to vets only will severely reduce competition by limiting the supply routes, escalate costs and have negative repercussions on animal welfare. Surveys carried out by the IFA National Animal Health Committee have shown that the cost of medicines restricted to POM regime has increased by 100% to 400%.

A 100ml of Alamycin 10% wholesales from €2.30 to €3 / bottle (excl vat) however it retails to farmers at €8 to €10 / bottle, a markup of 340% to 430%. A 100ml of pen/strep wholesales at €3 to €3.50 /bottle and retails at €7 to €9/bottle, a markup of 247% to 378%.

The IFA Animal Health Chairman said, "presently Irish farmers spend approximately €125 million per annum on animal remedies. If competition is removed and market prices mirror what has happened to the price of prescription only medicines, it is conceivable that farmers will have to pay an additional €60 to €80 million per annum for veterinary medicines." Michael Flynn said, "the definition of what constitutes a veterinary medicine varies enormously between member states. Electrolytes for example are not considered to be a veterinary medicine in Spain but are so here." In addition Mr. Flynn said, "This move by the Department will make Irish agriculture more uncompetitive.

The changes will do nothing to enhance consumer protection but will adversely affect animal welfare. This is the type of red tape that is forcing farmers out of business by imposing costly nonsensical regulations on an industry that can ill afford to carry them. "At the same time, we are allowing cheap food imports from outside the EU to freely enter into the Community, from countries where there is little or no regard for animal welfare or food security".

The Animal Health Chairman said, "The Minister must act immediately to ensure that a sensible regime is put in place. One of our major customers, the UK, is allowing professional people other than vets to write prescriptions for different categories of prescription only medicines. A similar regime which complies with the EU directive should be put in place here".

Farmers must be able to access prescriptions from suitably qualified people in addition to vets thus ensuring maximum competition. It is vital that dairy and livestock producers are able to access preventative medicines such as vaccines and wormers etc., from the maximum number of outlets possible otherwise we will reduce our cost competitiveness vis-à-vis our competitors. "Failure to do so will see veterinary costs escalate resulting in an increase in the use of therapeutic substances, a lowering of animal welfare standards, livestock production becoming unprofitable and the demise of this important indigenous industry."

Source: Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) - 29th August 2005

5m Editor