PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES (POM).
Who can prescribe for my animals?
Under animal remedies legislation, before a vet can prescribe medicines for animals, those animals must be 'under his/her care' - this means that the vet has been consulted by the farmer and given responsibility for the professional care of the animal, herd or flock and be available for follow-up consultation/treatment. Farmers are free under animal remedies legislation to engage more than one vet to deal with different aspects of their animal health needs - when engaging a 'second' vet, the farmer should, of course advise him/her of the involvement of any other vet with the animals. If different vets are dealing with a particular herd/flock, they have an obligation to keep each other informed as necessary.
Must my vet visit my farm before prescribing?
In general, under the legislation your vet is required to visit your farm at least once in a 12 month period; however, in the case of intramammaries, where your herd is part of a 'Schedule 8' (pdf 34Kb) Programme' (as defined in the legislation), your vet is not obliged to have been on the farm in the previous 12 months (this is because he/she will have available the information which is provided for in the Programme).
Is my vet obliged to give me a written prescription for a POM animal remedy?
Your vet should give you the original plus one copy of the prescription; the original is for the dispenser and the copy is for your own records. However, your vet may issue a veterinary prescription by electronic means where he/she
(i) supplies an animal remedy at the same time as he or she prescribes and an animal remedy.
(ii) has obtained your agreement or the agreement of the person in charge of the animal to be treated.
(iii) endorses the veterinary prescription with the word “dispensed” and
(iv) signs the prescription electronically at the time of prescribing.
It is also very important in the context of the cross compliance requirements for the Single Farm Payment to keep prescriptions, both written and electronic, as part of your Animal Remedies Record.
Do I have to buy my 'POM' medicine needs from the prescribing vet?
No. If you choose not to buy from your vet, you can take the written prescription to a pharmacy or, for some 'POM' products => List of Prescription only medicines (xls 25Kb) to a Licensed Merchant outlet.
How should animals be identified on a prescription?
This depends on the particular situation e.g. if a vet is prescribing for a specific disease episode in 1 or 2 animals, he/she should identify it/them by the tag number. However, if the prescription is for a group of animals, then they should be identified by reference to that group, e.g. 'animals in pen X' or 'all animals under x age'. In other words, as a general principle, where it is practically possible and appropriate to identify the individual animals for which the prescription is intended, this should be done but, where this is not practicable, it is sufficient to identify the specific group.
For how long is a prescription valid?
Under the legislation, a prescription can be for no longer than 12 months. However, a vet may, on animal health grounds, decide to prescribe for a shorter period or indeed for a single supply (e.g. a prescription for a particular illness episode). So, basically, the vet must specify the maximum life of a prescription in each case, but the legislation allows him/her to go to 12 months where this is appropriate.
Do I have to buy all the POM animal remedies listed on a prescription at the one time or in the same outlet?
No. You are free, within the life of the prescription, to buy as you need; when the seller (licensed merchant, pharmacy or vet), part-fills a prescription, he/she is obliged to return the original and copy to you showing how much has been supplied, so that you can use the prescription again.
What happens when a prescription is finished?
The person (i.e. licensed Merchant, pharmacy or vet) supplying the final quantity of an animal remedy, covered by a particular prescription, is required to keep the original for his/her records and give you back the copy with the word 'DISPENSED' entered on it. The farmer is required to keep this copy as part of his/her farm record.
Can a prescription be faxed or emailed?
No. The farmer should get 'hard' copies (i.e. original plus one copy) of the prescription from the vet and present them at point of purchase.
What happens if I need a POM medicine in an emergency and my usual vet is away?
Vets are required to make arrangements for cover when they are not available, either from another member of their group practice or with another practice. In the unusual situation where the needs of a sick animal are urgent and it is not possible to get a written prescription for dispensing, the vet is allowed to contact a pharmacy so that emergency supplies of medicines can be made available. However, the written prescription must be supplied no later than 72 hours afterwards.