The Veterinary Association of Zambia Executive Committee supports the move by the major suppliers of veterinary medicines in Zambia, to comply with provisions of the Medicines and Allied substances Act (Act No. 3 of 2013), which requires authorised persons to use prescriptions for the purchase of those medicines which are classified as prescription only medications (POMs), anaesthetics, scheduled drugs and those labelled ‘for use by or under the control of a veterinarian only.’
This Act has empowered the veterinary profession to regulate veterinary medicines without the prerequisite supervision of a pharmacist (as had been in the repealed Pharmaceutical Act). The Executive Committee thus, supports and encourages the use of prescriptions by its members who wish to access these drugs, for their own use, as well as for their clients, as a means of contributing towards compliance with the Medicines and Allied Substances Act. This will also contribute towards the improving the regulation of medicines in the veterinary sector.
The situation that has existed hitherto, allows unscrupulous, and unregulated usage of many medicines which should only be administered under the directive of a veterinarian, or a supervised veterinary paraprofessional.
The unregulated usage of veterinary pharmaceuticals poses a danger to both human and animal health, in that it promotes antibiotic resistance. As well as this, many medicines are being used incorrectly (e.g. in the wrong species, at the wrong dosages, and for the wrong conditions). Greater veterinary supervision of prescription medicines can help to ensure that medicines are used more strategically, and that withdrawal periods are strictly adhered to. It is thus, an ethical obligation of veterinary professionals to educate their clients about the correct use of these drugs at the time that the clients are being issued with these prescriptions.
In order to ensure that prescription medicines are only sold to legitimate personnel, it is recommended that all veterinarians begin to issue written prescriptions (for all prescription medicines) in the required format.
This further requires that legitimate veterinary professionals obtain their certificate and registration numbers, in order that suppliers of medicines may differentiate legitimately trained veterinary professionals, from those who are trading in veterinary medicines illegally.
The Veterinary Association of Zambia will be working with all stakeholders to ensure that stricter prescription enforcement is done in a “phased in” manner to allow the industry to adjust, and to give veterinarians and paraprofessionals time to register with the relevant authority, and get their prescription pads printed. This phasing in will also give livestock farmers and the animal-owning-public adequate time to locate their nearest veterinarian, or supervised veterinary paraprofessional,and establish a working relationship.