AHDA and AMTRA have supported the announcement that SQPs will be able to prescribe the sheep anthelmintic Zolvix – despite opposition from the British Veterinary Association.
The VMD has reclassified Zolvix from POM-V to POM-VPS at the request of the anthelmintic’s manufacturer, Elanco. This means that from 1st July, it can by prescribed by SQPs and pharmacists as well as vets.
Gudrun Ravetz, president of the BVA, said the reclassification was “in direct opposition” to the trend in Europe, where there was increased control over dispensing of anthelmintics in species where resistance is a serious threat.
“We’re extremely concerned that we might start seeing resistance develop in group 4 as a result,” she said. “BVA believes that prescribing of anthelmintics requires a level of control best provided by a veterinary surgeon who has the animals under his/her care, and is based on a sound clinical diagnosis, in order to protect animal welfare and safeguard the efficacy of these products for the future.”
AHDA and AMTRA have praised the VMD’s decision. “AHDA has always been keenly aware of the challenge within the sheep industry in regard to anthelmintic resistance,” said Bryan Lovegrove, AHDA’s secretary general.
“AHDA works very closely with SCOPS and supports the SCOPS principles which work towards the sustainable use of sheep wormers. Protection of the longevity of the traditional wormers is paramount and products such as Zolvix are needed to assist that.
“The reclassification of Zolvix is thus good news for the longer-term health and welfare of the national sheep flock. More often than not, the farm animal SQP is the key link and contact with sheep farmers. Therefore, the SQP is best placed to help inform and educate sheep farmers on the whole subject of anthelmintic resistance, as they see them on a regular basis.
“The SQP sector is a valuable resource for sheep farmers and AHDA is working closely with AMTRA and Elanco to ensure that all SQPs continue to provide a professional and knowledgeable service in the fight against anthelmintic resistance.”
Stephen Dawson, secretary general of AMTRA, said it agreed with the VMD that increased availability of the product, through SQPs and pharmacists, should increase the extent to which the product is incorporated into strategic worm control programmes on sheep farms.
“SCOPS has highlighted that despite availability through vets for many years, use of the product has remained well below best practice advice,” he said. “This has put a lot of pressure on the three older classes of anthelmintics and this underuse is likely to have contributed to increased anthelmintic resistance.
“AMTRA also shares SCOPS’ concern that the very low level of usage of the 4-AD and 5-SI groups could threaten the commercial viability of the products.”
AMTRA advises that farmers should not wait until they have a resistance problem to all three older classes before moving on, but should take professional advice now – from SQPs and vets – on a parasite control strategy that makes the best of the full range of products available.
“AMTRA is confident that SQPs are well placed to prescribe Zolvix responsibly, but as part of our periodic review of the SQP qualification, we have just increased the breadth of the farm-animal SQP qualification by a third,” said Mr Dawson. “All new SQP candidates enrolling with AMTRA will have to pass this, which significantly increases the proportion of the knowledge and qualification based on SCOPS and COWS guidance.”
Existing farm SQPs will have to undertake additional CPD addressing the enhanced resistance and parasite control material. Mr Dawson said AMTRA will announce more details shortly.