In October 2001 the Competition Commission were asked to investigate the supply of prescription-only veterinary medicines (POMs) within the UK.
In April 2003 the Commission presented their report to Parliament through the Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry (Dti) now called the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
Key Findings of the report:
The 2003 Competition Commission report to Parliament highlighted that prescription-only veterinary medicines (POMs) were predominantly supplied by manufacturers to veterinary surgeries via veterinary wholesalers and sold by veterinary surgeons to animal owners.
It focused on this chain of supply and on the ability of pharmacies to compete with veterinary surgeons at the retail level.
The report found three complex monopoly situations and proposed that these situations prevented, restricted, or distorted competition indicating a lack of competition in the veterinary medicines market.
The Commission made a number of recommendations including:
· alternative sources of supply to offer effective competition to the veterinary surgeons
· an increase in the availability of prescriptions from veterinary surgeons
· power to allow pharmacies to supply POMs
· transparency in the information available animal owners to allow them to understand and compare prices
The impact on veterinary surgeons
The Supply of Relevant Veterinary Medicinal Products Order 2005 implemented the 'no-prescription fee' legislation from the Dti and came into effect on the 31st October 2005.
For a period of three years (October 2005 to October 2008) veterinary surgeons were required to provide a veterinary prescription for no additional charge to the client beyond the cost of a clinical assessment or consultation.
The Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT), along with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), has monitored the prescriptions written and the charges made for them. The DGFT has decided that prescription charges should resume.
As of the 1st November 2008 veterinary surgeons can charge for providing prescriptions. The level at which a fee is set is a business decision for members, however SPVS working with BVA have produced advice including sample charging mechanisms.
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If you have any questions or comments regarding the supply of prescription medication please contact us.