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EU Directive threatens sales of horse wormers

PROPOSED changes in Brussels to legislation controlling the sale of animal medicine could prevent horse owners being able to buy horse wormers over the counter from qualified and registered retailers in the future.

These far-reaching plans which could radically change the way horse wormers and other animal medicines are sold, have come under strong criticism from the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).

The new proposal on veterinary pharmaceutical sales by the EU Commission could make all medicines for food-producing species (including horses) prescription only (POM).

The plans which are firmly opposed by BETA as well as other UK animal health trade bodies, could drastically alter the way horse owners buy their wormers.

BETA Chief Executive and Secretary Claire Williams explained that the new legislation could mean that wormers would only be obtainable under prescription from a vet which would have major repercussions for many owners.

"There is a major concern that the welfare of horses and ponies may suffer as a result of the proposed changes. Horse owners would lose the convenience of being able to buy their wormers from their local retailers as well as having to face the possibility of increased prices."

"As well as concerns over welfare issues and consumer rights the proposals could have a major impact on the whole farming and equestrian industry. It has already been put under enormous strain in recent months with the foot and mouth epidemic, so we really do not need another blow like this one."

Many retailers and agricultural merchants are reliant on both the turnover and the foot-traffic that horse wormers and other medicines create. More than 3,000 jobs could be jeopardised and over 600 retail saddlers and 1,000 agricultural merchants could be affected by the moves. BETA will do everything in its power to raise public awareness of the issues at stake and lobby against the changes," added Ms Williams.

The European Commission argues the changes are for the benefit of animal welfare and the safety of the food chain. With a safe and secure system already in place in the UK little benefit can be seen in the proposals. Instead it will impose a degree of over-restriction which could result in illegal trading and a reduction in competition and choice.

"At BETA we will be working hard to campaign against the proposed changes to assist both retailers in their businesses and consumers who should have the right to buy their wormers from the convenience of their local saddlers or merchants."

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