With the implementation date for ‘Regulation (EU) 2019/6 on Veterinary Medicinal Products’ due to come into effect in January 2022, my recent experience shows the value of the availability of veterinary medicinal products from a range of suppliers.

As a farmer, I had a cell count problem with low-grade mastitis in a number of cows. My preferred choice of treatment was unavailable – owing to the shortage of one of the ingredients.

My vet suggested alternative products, none of which had the required curative effect. Similar products were likewise unavailable.

Meanwhile, my [veterinary] pharmacist suggested an alternative product, which contained one of the main ingredients that is present in my preferred choice of treatment. However, the pharmacist explained that this product was only available subject to a veterinary prescription. My vet was happy to oblige with this prescription.

However, due to the impending bank holiday weekend, supply via the pharmacist would have taken an extra three days.

Instead, the pharmacist simply told my vet what product was ultimately needed. My vet was then able to source it and treat the relevant cows with it. The result was a significant improvement in the cows’ cell count and a restoration to full health.

‘Moral Of The Story’

The moral of the story is the need to recognise the value of all players in the supply chain [of veterinary medicines] at present.

The concern is that proposed legislation will upgrade veterinary medicines such as wormers, flukicides, pour-ons, coccidiostats, etc – to Prescription Only Medicine (POM) status.

With the reluctance of some vets to issue prescriptions for routine treatments – preferring to supply products from their own surgeries – it will eliminate other supply routes [such as going direct to the pharmacy] for veterinary medicines. This may result in a monopoly.

In agriculture, we know only too well the downsides of monopolies, whereby one dominant player dictates the price and terms to suit itself.

It is crucial that we retain access to these vital medicines from merchants, co-ops and pharmacists, as well as from our vets.

Letter to the editor From Simon Wheeler, dairy farmer, Co. Laois