Vets raise concern over sheep anthelmintic reclassification

25 August 2017

Anthelmintics are best prescribed by a vet as part of a flock health plan in order to safeguard the drugs' efficacy

British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS) have expressed concern following the announcement by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) regarding the reclassification of Startect Dual Active Oral Solution, an anthelmintic for sheep, from POM-V to POM-VPS.

The reclassification of the drug, which is authorised for the treatment and control of mixed gastro-intestinal nematode infections and associated diseases of sheep, now legally permits pharmacists and suitably qualified persons, as well as vets, to prescribe it.

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President John Fishwick said:

"We know that resistance to anthelmintics is increasing in grazing animals worldwide and needs to be addressed to avoid a potentially disastrous situation of being unable to tackle parasites. The reclassification of Startect Dual Active from POM-V to POM-VPS is in direct opposition to the trend in Europe, where we are seeing increased control over dispensing of anthelmintics in species where resistance is posing a serious threat to animal health, welfare and profitable production; we're extremely concerned that we might start seeing resistance develop in Group 5 as a result.

“BVA believes that the prescribing of anthelmintics requires a level of control best provided by a veterinary surgeon who has the animals under his/her care, and is based on a sound clinical diagnosis. The drugs are best used as part of a flock health plan drawn up by farmers in conjunction with their vet in order to protect animal health and welfare and safeguard the efficacy of these products for the future."

Sheep Veterinary Society President Kathryn Dun said:

“Group 5 anthelmintics should be used only as part of a careful designed strategy for the individual farm and it is imperative that this strategy is worked out with a vet and is part of a flock health plan for that farm. The products need to be used, in the correct way, to help prolong the life of our other anthelmintics.

“We are unlikely to have any further new groups of anthelmintics in the foreseeable future, so education of those buying and selling these products is crucial to ensure the longevity of the effective action of them against sheep parasites.”

Further information on BVA's policy on anthelmintics can be found here: