New regulations on the distribution of veterinary medicines come into force at the end of October. The new rules will make it a criminal offence to prescribe generic human drugs when there is an authorised veterinary drug available for the same indication.
Up until now it has not been a criminal offence for vets to supply human drugs for use in animals, even though it goes against the prescribing cascade. Vets have been doing this because in many cases the human generic drugs are as safe and effective as their licensed veterinary counterparts but much cheaper. Obviously the change to the rules ensures that this can no longer happen and unfortunately costs may rise, which will inevitably need to be passed on to our clients!
Another change which will particularly affect small animal vets is the requirement for more medicine record keeping than was previously necessary. This places another administrative burden on vets, but on the positive side may make it easier to recall products if there is a problem with them.
The new rules also make it illegal for an animal keeper to possess unauthorised veterinary medicines. Previously proof of these medicines having actually been used was required for successful prosecution. This is an attempt to prevent unauthorised medicines being provided direct to owners from suppliers over the internet.
The rules on veterinary medicines are therefore becoming much tighter as a result of this new legislation. It is quite likely that due to all of these changes our clients will experience a rise in the prices of their veterinary drugs. This is a shame since it may have a detrimental effect on animal welfare, with some owners considering a visit to the vet too expensive!