AMTRA welcomes important changes to supply and prescription of animal medicines during COVID-19 pandemic

VMD adopts changes to enforcement policy to assist continued supply of animal medicines during national crisis

Changes to the way certain animal medicines can be safely prescribed and supplied during the coronavirus crisis, announced this week by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), have been welcomed by regulatory body AMTRA (Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority).

Effective immediately, the new enforcement policy addresses the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The policy allows registered animal medicines advisors (RAMAs) to remotely prescribe and authorise the supply of animal medicines such as wormers, flukicides, flea treatments and vaccinations, provided strict procedures are observed.

The VMD has adopted the new approach, across the companion animal, equine and farm animal sectors, until 30 April 2020. Given current uncertainties, this date may be amended by further notice.

Under normal obligations, RAMAs, otherwise known as SQPs, are required to hand over or despatch the medicine product personally, or be in a position to intervene if necessary, having already established the health status of the animal requiring treatment.

It is also the RAMA’s responsibility to check the product after it has been allocated for supply to a customer, and be satisfied that the person handing over or dispatching it is competent to do so. In practice, these obligations previously required the RAMA being physically present to observe, and be able to intervene if required.

Stephen Dawson, AMTRA secretary general explains, “In the current circumstances, if the only available RAMA/SQP at a registered premises is self-isolating, those requirements would prevent in-person supervision. Enforcing those rules would also limit the possibility for the RAMA to be working from home in an effort to limit the number of people on the business premises.”

Under the new approach, the RAMA is still responsible for the prescription and supply and therefore must:

  • Be the person that has the conversation/consultation with the animal owner
  • Be the person that makes the prescribing decision
  • Be satisfied that the person handing over or dispatching the prescribed product is competent to do so

The RAMA must then instruct the person at the premises from which the physical supply is to be made, to hand over or dispatch the specific medicine that the RAMA has prescribed. The documentation and records will also be kept for a minimum of 5 years.

Mr Dawson adds, “AMTRA welcomes this new approach during the new unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will maintain the essential distribution channel for animal medicines while safeguarding the health and safety of staff and customers.”

More advice and guidance can be obtained by contacting AMTRA on 01359 245801 or www.amtra.org.uk

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.