New regulation on animal medicine supply kept by vets stirs debate in Turkey

New regulation on animal medicine supply kept by vets stirs debate in Turkey

Cansu Şimşek – ISTANBUL
New regulation on animal medicine supply kept by vets stirs debate in Turkey

A new regulation on medicine supply for animals prohibiting vets from keeping stocks of medications, which are also used in the treatment of human illnesses, has stirred debate in Turkey.

According to the new regulation that came into force in February, veterinarians in the country will electronically prescribe human medicine and animal owners will buy the relevant medication from pharmacies, as is the same case for people wanting to buy prescribed medicines. Animal owners will then hand the medication to the vet, who will apply the treatment to the animal. The previous system, on the other hand, had enabled vets to keep stocks of a wide range of animal medicines.

The new regulation initiated by the Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry seeks to stop the improper use of antibiotics on cattle. But vets believe this new system will lead to chaos.

The head of the Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons, Murat Arslan, said the problem with the regulation is that it also covers pets, despite the regulation targeting to solve problems regarding cattle.

The issue becomes more serious if the cases require an emergency intervention, according to vets.

“For example, you hurt a stray animal or your pet is in a critical health condition. Then I [as a vet] will write an electronic prescription to you, then you will find an appropriate pharmacy, will acquire the medication, and then we will intervene [apply the treatment],” veterinarian Hüseyin Yenilmez told daily Hürriyet.

“This is not a practical implementation for vets who sometimes race against time. In emergency situations occurring late at nights, there will be problems like finding an open pharmacy,” Yenilmez said.

“Serum used in fluid replacement, hemostatic medicine, thyroid medicine, gastroprotective medicine, adrenaline, and even chemotherapy medicines, used for humans, are also used in the treatment of animals. The lack of these medicines in our clinic will hinder all of our operations,” Aslı Türkel, another vet, said.

Lawyer Deniz Tavşancıl Kalafatoğlu from Istanbul Bar Association’s Human Rights Center said the pharmacists were not informed in a “detailed way” regarding the new regulation. “In our meetings with the Chamber of Pharmacists, we have seen that an announcement was made to them [on the new regulation], but they were not given detailed information,” Kalafatoğlu said.

“For medicine to be sold through e-prescription, first the pharmacies need to apply to the provincial directorates of food agriculture and livestock and provide many documents, whose acquisitions would also take a long time. It is not possible to buy human medicine from pharmacies that aren’t registered in the e-prescription system. Every animal that you take to a clinic will be registered with the ID number of its owner, meaning it will be registered on them. But what about the stray animals that we treat with benevolence? In this situation, who would want to take the responsibility of the animals following its treatment?” Kalafatoğlu stressed.

The Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry told daily Hürriyet they did not foresee any problems regarding the registration of stray animals in the e-prescription system, as stray animals were registered in the system with the tax ID number of the municipality they were found in.