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Veterinary Pharmacists Group

New certificate

Michael Jepson, joint course director, said the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s veterinary pharmacy teaching programme, now in its 25th year, had three aims:

· To enable more pharmacists to contribute effectively to the health and welfare of companion animals as well as to livestock, where appropriate

· To respond to changing needs, by giving more attention to the inclusion of veterinary pharmacy field and support staff

· To encourage closer co-operation with the veterinary profession

Mr Jepson announced a new certificate in livestock health and husbandry for students who wished to take the relevant modules as a stand-alone unit rather than combining it with the certificate in companion animal health care.

Workshops

Two workshops were held to address how more pharmacists could be encouraged to become involved with veterinary medicines. One group looked at the large animal market and a second group discussed the companion animal sector. A number of action points emerged:

· Veterinary pharmacy should be included in the undergraduate course as a matter of urgency to ensure that newly qualified pharmacists are able to respond in an informed way to requests for advice and supplies from animal owners and to dispense veterinary prescriptions accurately.

· Pharmacists should be provided with resource packs (for each sector) and information on the areas most likely to result in business — ecto- and endo-parasiticides and vaccines for livestock.

· The Veterinary Pharmacists Group should address the wider issues of working with vets and raising the awareness and commitment of manufacturers and wholesalers. It should also make sure the Royal Pharmaceutical Society recognises this sector as a priority for the future.

· A contact network of pharmacists for mentoring, work experience and regional meetings should be developed.

John Fitzgerald, director of policy at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, outlined to the meeting the changes that would be made to the 2005 Veterinary Regulations. He explained that the VMD is seeking to address a number of issues that had arisen since the adoption of the current Regulations in October 2005. These include:

· Extending the requirement to hold a certificate of competence from those persons purchasing a sheep dip product to those who are actually engaged in the procedure

· Clarifying the existing regulations with respect to retail supply by Registered Qualified Persons

· Batch recording requirements for veterinary medicinal products administered to food-producing animals

Requirements for labelling veterinary medicinal products at the time of retail supply were both being reintroduced. Provisions were also to be made for the approval of a manufacturer to make an extemporaneous veterinary medicine (a “special”), for administration under the cascade.

The position of homoeopathic veterinary medicines was being clarified following a consultation paper.

Mr Fitzgerald said that a working group had been set up by the Veterinary Products Group to examine the reclassification of a large number of authorised veterinary medicines. Pharmacists should be prepared for the fact that some medicines might be subject to more control as well as relaxing the control on others.

VPG committee member Rod Jones outlined how the new regulations are impacting on pharmacy with respect to livestock animals. He emphasised the need to satisfy one-self that a purchaser was competent to use the product safely and intended to use it for an authorised application. Offering advice on safe application was also important.

Importance of vaccines

Alasdair King, veterinary manager, large animal business unit, Intervet UK Ltd, gave an overview of animal health and the importance of vaccines. For a variety of reasons he did not think pharmacy involvement in the supply of vaccines is a practical possibility for small animals, horses, pigs and poultry. However, he did identify opportunities in small and large ruminants. Mr King said farm health is about better efficiency and increased focus on prevention of disease. There are also concerns about the wide use of antibiotics. Collectively, all these factors would lead to the administration of more vaccines. Most sheep vaccines are POM-VPS and although most cattle vaccines are POM-V there are still opportunities for pharmacists to be more active in both these sectors, particularly as veterinary surgeons’ involvement with beef cattle and sheep is low. Mr King said there is a large range of vaccines on the market and a decision on what to stock should be based on the extent of disease in the area of operation, the efficacy and degree of complexity of the product and the support that is necessary for the farming community.

New opportunities

In her presentation entitled “Opportunities in an emerging market”, Alison Glennon, communications manager at the National Office of Animal Health, said that only 750 non-specialist pharmacies are selling animal medicines, representing just 10 per cent of the market. She said pharmacists should “make a bigger cake” by encouraging new owners to commit to regular health care for their pets and working in synergistic partnerships with vets and manufacturers. This would likely gain greater direct support of the marketing authorisation holders, improve the overall health status of the pet population and reduce public health risk from zoonotic infection.

Ms Glennon said that there is plenty of scope, because millions of pets never receive regular health checks and are taken to a vet only if they fall ill. Half the cats in the UK do not appear to be wormed at all. Of those that are, few are being wormed four times a year, as recommended.

Similar circumstances apply for dog wormers and pet flea treatments. There are huge opportunities for pharmacists to develop their share of the market.

Zoonoses

Nigel Calvert, consultant in health protection, Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit, spoke on zoonoses — diseases and infections that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man. He said that:

  • 61 per cent of human infectious disease is zoonotic
  • 75 per cent of human emerging infections are zoonotic
  • 33 per cent of zoonoses are transmissible from human to human

There are interesting links between the concentration of farm animals and the incidence of certain diseases in the UK. He said pharmacists could be proactive in giving advice on public health issues, including zoonotic transmission.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10001718

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