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New cost threat to livestock medicines

by 5m Editor
9 April 2003, at 12:00am

UK - Following the EC's disinclination to accept the will of the European Parliament, the battle is back on to save Britain's three-tier animal medicines system.

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NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & White-hall, and with pro-cessors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

If the EC gets its way, pig producers' costs will rise because they will have to buy all their pharmaceuticals - including simple items such as de-wormers - from vets.

Britain, Ireland, and to a lesser extend the Netherlands, have a three-tier animal medicines system, whereby some everyday items can be sold by properly trained merchants such as Hanco National Pig Supplies in Herefordshire and Phillips Animal Health in Lincolnshire.

But the EC want to make all medicines for farm livestock and horses prescription-only.

Following a long and vigorous campaign by AHDA (the Animal Health Distributors Association) the European Parliament adopted an amendment where member states could continue with a three-tier system, providing the merchants concerned were properly qualified, as they are in the UK.

If this amendment had been accepted, Britain's three-tier system would have been saved.

But the European Commission have decided not to recommend the parliamentary amendment to the Council of Ministers. Dr Roger Dawson at AHDA describes their action as "underhand and despicable".

"Instead of being clear and honest that they are seeking to restore their original proposals, they are seeking to mislead by saying they accept the amendment in principle."

The EC are attempting a sleight-of-hand trick. They want to move the amendment to a different clause and reinstate the original EC wording - that all medicines for farm livestock and horses must be prescription only. This effectively makes the parliamentary amendment meaningless.

"It would make it possible for members states to allow registered merchants to dispense prescriptions for these medicines - but the medicines would be prescription-only.

"This would end the Pharmacy and Merchants List system and stop PML medicines being supplied by some 1600 registered premises and render worthless the AMTRA SQP registrations held by some 3,000 people," said Dr Dawson.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT…

UK government supports the EU parliament amendment to save the PML system, so it is important that Margaret Beckett is briefed by Defra to fight the EC's attempted sleight of hand.

If this fails, Euro MPs need to be persuaded to stand their ground when the proposed legislation reappears before the European Parliament for its second reading in the autumn.

Some NPA members have already written to their MEPs on this issue. It would be helpful if they would contact them again to stress that Britain's PML system is still in danger.

Your could forward the latest AHDA circular (right click and choose Save Target As) from Roger Dawson to MEPs, to explain the issue. To get your MEPs' email addresses click here.

Source: National Pig Association By Digby Scott - 9th April 2003

5m Editor