The new EU Veterinary Medicine Regulation has the potential to severely impact on competition in the supply of anthelmintics to farmers.
That is the view of IFA animal health chairman, Pat Farrell, who spoke ahead of a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee yesterday (Thursday, November 12th).
He warned that the regulation also threatens the future viability of licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies if the Department of Agriculture does not resolve the issue.
“The Health Products Regulatory Authority has determined that anthelmintics must be categorised as POM from 2022 onwards, which means a prescription will have to be issued before the product can be purchased.”
“This raises serious issues for the competitive supply of these products if Suitably Qualified Persons in the licensed merchants are not allowed to prescribe these products for farmers,” he said.
IFA’s campaign has focused on the task for the Minister for Agriculture and MEPs to recognise the “unique” situation on the island of Ireland by facilitating the prescribing of these products by Suitably Qualified Persons.
Farrell said a derogation in the regulation allows for Suitably Qualified Persons in Northern Ireland and the UK to prescribe these products. He stressed this must be facilitated for the supply of anthelmintics here.
Remove vital competition
“The Department of Agriculture cannot stand over the creation of a two-tier supply system on the island of Ireland that puts farmers here at a competitive disadvantage and jeopardises the future viability of licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies who play a crucial role in supporting farmers and rural economies,” he said.
Farrell said failure to deliver this key requirement for farmers and the agri-sector will lead to unregulated movement of products.
He highlighted it will remove vital competition in the supply of products; and undermine the attempts to develop a co-ordinated national approach to better parasite control on farms.
“A crucial recommendation is to maximise stakeholder involvement. If this anti-competitive measure is not addressed, it will hand control of all veterinary medicine usage to one service provider, who also acts as the prescriber, and has an economic interest in the supply of products.”
“This is not credible in attempts to have better usage of these products on farms and cannot be allowed happen.” he concluded.