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The NFU has welcomed the fact that the Government is to challenge European
Commission proposals that all farm animal medicines should be prescribed by

The NFU is already lobbying against the plans, which it fears could
compromise the protection of animal health by preventing farmers having
access to vital over-the-counter medicines.

It could also lead to an increase in the price of veterinary medicines
because prescription-only products include additional charges levied by the

NFU Animal Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Neil Cutler said: "Farmers
have bought some animal medicines from professional dispensers without the
need for a prescription for many years. This long-established system has
worked extremely well.

"The availability of certain drugs for the treatment of common ailments is
extremely important - and that applies to animals as well as humans.

"The EU's proposals will also undoubtedly push up costs, which livestock
farmers can ill afford after yet another dire year. It is good news that
DEFRA agrees with us and is seeking to modify the plans to ensure that this
tried and tested route remains available."

Lord Whitty told the House of Lords last week of the Government's intention
to challenge the proposal, which is part of a wider Directive to standardise
European veterinary and human medicine prescription. It could be some time
before the legislation is adopted in Brussels as it will have to pass
through both the Parliament and the Council.

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