Medicinal products are used in both human and veterinary medicine to treat diseases and to influence bodily functions and conditions. The use of medicines in veterinary medicine is viewed ambivalently by the public, especially when medicines are used in food-producing animals.
There is no doubt that our pets have a right to veterinary care. This is enshrined in law in the Animal Welfare Act. It is self-evident for owners of pets that effective medicines are available to their pet in the event of illness. However, the same must also apply to the care of our farm animals. Nevertheless, the use of veterinary medicines for these animals is often viewed critically and regularly presented negatively in the media. However, the legal regulations governing the use of medicinal products in food-producing animals ensure that the safety of the food obtained from these animals is guaranteed.
The legal basis for medicinal products is to be found in European and national law, which is monitored and enforced by the Federal Government and, in particular, the Länder.
All essential requirements for both the human and veterinary sectors are regulated in Germany in the "Law on the Marketing of Medicinal Products", or "Medicinal Products Act" for short.
There are additionally a number of special regulations for veterinary medicinal products, for example:
- Tierhalter-Arzneimittelanwendungs- und Nachweisverordnung (Ordinance on the Application and Verification of Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use).
- Ordinance on veterinary home pharmacies
- Guidelines for the careful handling of antimicrobially active veterinary medicinal products
The special regulations for veterinary medicinal products serve, on the one hand, to secure the supply of medicinal products to our animals and, on the other hand, to ensure that the use of the medicinal products does not cause any harm to the consumer of foodstuffs obtained from animals.
For this reason, domestic animals are basically divided into those species that (possibly) serve the purpose of obtaining food and those that, as pets and companion animals, are in no way intended for consumption.
In the case of animals used for the production of foodstuffs, only those medicinal products may be used whose active substances have been tested and evaluated with regard to their residue behaviour in foodstuffs obtained from animals (meat, eggs, milk). If necessary, a withdrawal period must be observed after the use of these medicinal products, during which the animal may not be slaughtered and products from that animal (e.g. milk or eggs) may not reach human consumption.
These restrictions do not apply to pets.
Prescription drugs may only be used by the animal owner on animals if they have been prescribed or dispensed by the treating veterinarian. The veterinarian's treatment instructions must be followed. In the case of animals used for the production of foodstuffs, restrictions apply to the quantity of prescription medicines (e.g. antibiotics) that can be dispensed.
In order to be able to trace the use of medicinal products in animals used for the production of foodstuffs, certain recording obligations apply to the purchase and use of medicinal products in the treatment of these animals. Among other things, the name of the medicinal product used, the time of application, the quantity administered and the withdrawal period must be documented. The animals treated must be clearly identified. The required information must be provided to the farmer in writing by his veterinarian (proof of administration and use). The voucher must be kept by the animal keeper. At the same time, the veterinarian must record the same data for his own records. The proofs and records must be kept for 5 years and must be presented to the competent authorities at any time upon request.
By the way: The Medicines Act does not apply to vaccines and serums for animals. Special regulations apply to these preparations, which are laid down in the Animal Vaccines Ordinance.