New veterinary medicine regulations were due to come into force on 28 January 2022. Have they been dropped now?

No, the EU-wide Veterinary Medicinal Regulation 2019/6 will still come into effect on 28 January.

However, the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has deferred one aspect of the regulations in Ireland – the need for a vet prescription for anti-parasitic medicines such as wormers, doses and drenches.

What happens those anti-parasitic medicines now?

From now until 1 June 2022, you can continue to buy your anti-parasitic medicines without a prescription, wherever you usually buy them, whether that’s from the vet or from your local merchant.

However, from 1 June 2022, you will need to have a prescription for them from a vet.

Will I have to get a new prescription every time I want to dose my animals?

No, prescriptions issued by vets for anti-parasitic medicines after 1 June will be valid for a maximum period of 12 months. For example, your vet could issue a prescription in June which you can use to buy your dosing products anytime up to May 2023, while the prescription is in date.

Will I have to buy my dosing products direct from my vet?

No, you can buy your anti-parasitic medicines from your preferred supplier, whether that is your vet or a local merchant, at any time of the year while the prescription is valid.

What about buying antibiotics like penicillin?

The new requirements regarding the prescribing of antimicrobials, including antibiotics and medicated feed, will come into effect on 28 January 2022, as planned.

Is there a new computer system for prescriptions for antibiotics?

The new computer-based National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS) will be in place nationally from 28 January 2022, but it will not be mandatory for vets to use it until 1 June 2022.

They can continue to issue paper-based prescriptions until 1 June 2022, if they prefer.

Do I have to get all my prescriptions from one vet?

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

A farmer can have a relationship with more than one vet so you could get prescriptions from more than one vet.

Will I have to buy branded products that the vet prescribes?

This has been a bone of contention in recent weeks, with fears that some vets might only prescribe branded products that they supply in their own shops. This would possibly limit farmers’ ability to shop around for products with the same active ingredient but not the same brand name.

However, the minister has said he will examine the issue of interchangeable anti-parasitics and how best to serve the industry, saying that more information will be made available in the coming weeks.

Why are these regulations being brought in?

The regulations are an EU-wide attempt to prevent growing resistance to antimicrobial and anti-parasitic medicines. If resistance continues to grow, there is a danger that we will run out of suitable medicines to tackle diseases and parasites.

What else do I need to know?

The minister has said he is working on a proposal to introduce a large-scale Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) programme specifically focused on parasite control on Irish farms next year.

This will allow farmers to engage a specifically trained vet to provide advice on parasite control measures in their herd, at no cost to the farmer.

The aim is to reduce unnecessary dosing and reduce the overall amount of medicines used, which will help to slow down the growth of parasitic resistance.