Pharmacists caution on veterinary drugs' regulation in new Bill

The Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSC), a regulatory body of pharmacists in the country has cautioned government against leaving the regulation of veterinary medicine in the hands of the practitioners.

The pharmacists, who were on Thursday, 13 July 2023 appearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said the proposed Veterinary Practitioners Bill, 2023, should only regulate the veterinary profession and not medicines.

“Several of the Bill’s substantive clauses decidedly delve into medicines regulation. It should be noted that world over, medicines regulation is divorced from professional regulation,” Edson Munanura, Secretary, PSC said.

Munanura said that all clauses relating to regulation of veterinary medicines should be removed on ground that the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDPA) Act adequately restricts drug dispensation to pharmacists.  

“As it stands, the Bill would permit veterinary practitioners to be in possession of classified drugs including Class A drugs whose dispensing the NDPA Act restricts to qualified pharmacists,” he said.

Clause 21(3) of the Bill permits a veterinary surgeon to personally prescribe, compound and dispense veterinary medicines for use in the treatment of an animal under his or her professional care.

According to pharmacists, vesting all these functions to veterinary surgeons would promote abuse and irrational drug use.

“If the Bill gives veterinary practitioners the function of diagnosis, regulating and dispensing then it is not the best practice. The Bill should be restricted to professional practice and not medicines,” Tony Badebye, President of PSU said.

Kole District Woman Representative, Hon. Judith Alyek, said the staggering number of animals in the county vis-à-vis the number of veterinary professionals could pose a big public threat.

“It is clear that government staff structure in the veterinary practice is inadequate. We are losing so many animals because of lack of specialised prescription. Each district has only one veterinary doctor,” Alyek said.

Currently, Uganda has about 3,800 registered veterinary practitioners, out of which 1,400 are registered veterinarians and 2,400 registered para-veterinarians. Pharmacists said the number of veterinary practitioners in the country is adequate enough to be deployed at county level.