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Supplying human medicines for animal use

From Mr J. L. Owen, MRPharmS

The “Medicines, ethics and practice” guide states that, under the regulations, it is an offence to supply any medicinal product authorised for human use for administration to an animal, other than in accordance with a prescription from a veterinary surgeon.

As I stood behind the counter in the supermarket pharmacy where I work, politely refusing a sale of surgical spirit to a man who wanted it for his dog’s paw, I grew more embarrassed at my stance and he grew angrier. My eyes rose to a higher place for guidance when, red-faced, he suddenly decided that he would defeat me by telling me he now wanted it for himself instead.

What was I to do? If I relented, then my previous refusal to sell would have been made to appear even more ridiculous. If I continued to refuse to sell the product then it was as good as calling the man a liar. If that did not get me into hot water with the fitness-to-practise committee then I guessed a customer complaint would be coming my way.  

I stuck by my original decision and declined the sale. Fortunately, my ear was not subsequently bashed by the customer services manager but I have no doubt that my angry customer is, at this moment, tending to his dog’s paw with some surgical spirit supplied from another pharmacy, where he did not mention anything dog-related.

It does say in the MEP: “Pharmacists may not supply authorised human General Sale List or Pharmacy medicines over-the-counter.” So I cannot sell antiseptic cream for Tiddles’s ear, but what about staff working on the checkouts?

If a customer happens to mention that he or she is buying something similar from the self-service medicine section for his or her pet, are checkout operators to be prosecuted if they scan it?

J. L. Owen  

Taunton, Somerset

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10030735

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