Medicines regulation ‘will raise costs’

THE current proposals by the Department of Agriculture and Food on the regulation of animal medicines will restrict product availability and competition within the market, Fine Gael claims.

Party spokesman Denis Naughten said the proposals will significantly increase the cost of medicines to farmers, which will have a direct impact on animal husbandry and the cost of food production.

Currently, farmers are not even getting the basic cost of production back from the market place and if Farm Minister Mary Coughlan is allowed to push through her current proposals on animal remedies, farmers will be at a greater loss.

Addressing animal medicine retailers in Athlone, he said anything that does not have a withdrawal period should not be prescription-only.

“It is also important that we do not create a structure that results in a monopoly for a single profession. The EU directive makes clear that qualified persons, not only veterinarians, are entitled to write prescriptions.”

Mr Naughten said he accepts that for some medicines, veterinarians are the most appropriate people to write a prescription, but this should be limited to a restricted number of medicines and should not apply across the board.

Veterinary expenses are 44% more expensive than they were 10 years ago, but the Government seems intent on squeezing farmers’ pockets even more, he claimed.

“If the minister gets her way later this year in regard to prescription-only medicine, farmers’ costs will only be driven higher, and this cannot be tolerated,” he said.

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