Prescriptions issued by vets for anti-parasitic medicines after 1 June next year will be valid for a maximum period of 12 months, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.

This is a significant easing of the new rules, which had previously proposed that a five-day validity would be imposed on common dosing products for livestock.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said that anti-parasitic medicines, once prescribed, can then be purchased by the farmer from their preferred supplier at the appropriate time throughout the period that the prescription is valid.

The move will be welcomed by farmers, who had feared that the more stringent five-day rule would be imposed on anti-parasitic products, meaning they would require a prescription from their vet every time they needed to dose their animals.

The requirement for prescriptions for anti-parasitic medicines has been deferred for a four-month period until 1 June 2022.

Advisory programme

The Minister also announced that he is finalising a proposal to introduce a large-scale Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) programme specifically focused on parasite control on farms in 2022.

"The development of a structured parasite control plan is critical to addressing the increasing challenge of anti-parasite resistance. This measure will allow farmers engage a specifically trained vet to provide advice on parasite control measures in their herd, at no cost to the farmer," he said.

The Minister also confirmed that once a farmer has a relationship with a vet, that vet can prescribe in line with the Veterinary Council of Ireland’s code of professional conduct.

A farmer can have a relationship with more than one vet and the Minister said he is examining the issue of interchangeable anti-parasitics, which are generic medicines. There had been fears that vets would only prescribe specific brand name medicines, which would limit farmers’ ability to shop around for the active ingredient at lower prices.