AMTRA said that it will emphasise the quality of the advice that SQPs give in its submission to
the delayed VMR consultation, which is expected to start in the first half of 2023.
Stephen Dawson, AMTRA secretary general, said that one tool that the body has advocated to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) for some years is that of an enhanced prescribing record.
“This is not the same as the current, optional, written prescription,” Mr Dawson said. “The key change would be the requirement to record the reason, the justification, behind the prescribing decision.
“That a customer asks for a particular product (or particular pack size) is never a good enough reason to prescribe that product – the prescriber should be able to justify why it was an appropriate product to prescribe, make a record of that justification, and that record then be available for inspection by VMD, and by AMTRA in case of a professional standards complaint.”
Mr Dawson said that this change will drive up standards by emphasising the need to record the justification for product choice and giving confidence to SQPs that, if they ask ‘awkward’ questions of farmers, then SQPs in other businesses would be asking the same questions, diluting pressure sometimes put on them by customers.
“This benefits customers too, by making sure that they leave with the right product, fully understanding the best way to use it, not just the one they used last time,” Mr Dawson said.
“The most expensive product is one that doesn’t work, either because it was a poor choice this time, or wrongly administered or at the wrong dose, or without appropriate accompanying management approaches.
Mr Dawson said that AMTRA has also asked the VMD to review differences between standards expected in respect of VPS medicines (and SQPs) dependent on whether they work in veterinary practice premises, pharmacies, and SQP retailers’ premises, and justify the differences.
“For instance, if self-selection of medicines is not permitted in SQP retailers’ premises, should it be in other retailers?” Mr Dawson said.
While the vast majority of VMD inspections of SQP retailer premises are extremely satisfactory, AMTRA has proposed that a ‘scores on the doors’ approach be adopted, encouraging businesses to display their inspection rating.
“This would have the potential side benefit of increasing awareness among customers that the premises are inspected and that trained, qualified and registered professionals work there,” Mr Dawson said.
“AMTRA would favour compulsory display of the findings, which would act as an additional motivator for all premises to gain top ratings.”
AMTRA has also said it would support the introduction of unannounced inspections.
Mr Dawson said: “With inspection frequencies as low as seven years (possibly more if Covid has slowed inspections), there is a risk that businesses could become complacent: a compliant business has nothing to fear from an unannounced (or at least very short notice) inspection.”
Mr Dawson added that AMTRA supports the reclassification of medicines where it is safe and appropriate to do so.