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Farmers reminded that buying prescription-only medicines online is illegal

The Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) has noted a “significant increase” in the number of unauthorised and prescription only veterinary medicinal products (VMPs) seized by customs recently. 

It emphasised that the safety of all VMPs in use in the Irish market is of paramount importance and that the regulations in place are there to protect the welfare of all animals.

It wishes to remind the public that the purchasing of prescription-only medicines on-line is illegal under SI 786 of 2007 – European Communities (Animal Remedies) (No. 2) Regulations 2007.

The DAFM said the majority of the products seized are being shipped to the Irish market from non-EU countries (third countries), such as Australia, Canada and the USA and are being purchased from sites purporting to be Ireland-based, with an “ie” internet address, the department said in a statement.  

“Veterinary Medicinal Products that are manufactured, packaged and authorised for sale in Ireland, must have the relevant authorisation code(s) issued by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), and or an EU code issued by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in order to be legal in this country.”

“Purchasers of such products can then be assured that the medicines they procure are manufactured to the highest standards of quality and hygiene, have been tested correctly, include correct volumes of active ingredients, correct product usage information and are appropriate and fit for their animals or pets.”

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“Whilst some VMPs bought online may look the same, there is no guarantee that it is genuine or that it is the same animal medicine that was prescribed by your veterinary practitioner. As a result, your animal or pet’s condition may go untreated.”

If the product is not produced (and that definition includes authorisation codes, packaging/labelling) or licenced for the Irish market, then it cannot be imported or used here, the department outlined.

What can I purchase online?

  • You can only buy authorised non-prescription VMPs online. The products should have a designated route of sale of Licensed Merchant or Companion Animals only. 
  • Non-Prescription VMPs can be purchased from websites anywhere within the EU so long as the product being purchased is licenced and authorised for the Irish market.  The onus is on the purchaser to ensure that the product is in compliance with Irish legislation.

The department highlighted the following key points:

  • Prescription Only Medicines (POMs) cannot be purchased online;
  • Online shoppers may see similar/same VMPs on-line, however, if they lack the requisite authorisation codes as set out above, they cannot be imported and used in this country;
  • Any illegal VMP imported and seized by Customs at the point of entry to the State will not be released or returned by DAFM. These goods and products will be destroyed in accordance with the legal requirements for the disposal of such products.

Can I purchase veterinary medicines products on-line?

  • Purchases of certain animal remedies may be made from Irish companies licenced by DAFM to retail non-prescription animal remedies over the Internet. Consumers should, the department pointed out, confirm the following details;
  • Websites must have an INT/ licence number– followed by a County code such as “KE” or “CK” and which is followed by a three-digit, e.g. INT/KE/989;
  • This INT licence number must be visible on their website;
  • Products are designated as Non-Prescription products;
  • Products should have a route of sale of Licensed Merchant or Companion Animal Medicines only.


“You can buy from websites anywhere within the EU, so long as the product being purchased is licenced and authorised for the Irish market and not designated as a Prescription Only Medicine.”

“If not, it will be seized upon entry into the country and you may be liable for fines.” the department added.


If you have any further queries you can contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine by email-[email protected]

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