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Guidance on the use of EU products for Bees under the cascade

Bee keepers are concerned with the threat that the parasitic mite Varroa destructor presents to apiculture. Varroosis is endemic in the UK and across the EU, and the resistance to the active ingredients in authorised products is increasing.

There are currently 6 products authorised in the UK for the treatment of varroa infestation. However, the VMD acknowledges that availability of medicines to control this condition is a problem.

The EU legislation (Directive 2001/82 as amended), transposed into national legislation (Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2013), permits the importation of products authorised in other Member States under the prescribing Cascade when the need to do so arises, but this must be done under the responsibility of a veterinary surgeon.

We hope to be able to fully authorise more products for bees in the UK but as a short term measure we have put in place a fast-track system to allow veterinarians to import products authorised in the EU via the VMD's import system.

This following guidance aims to provide help to veterinary surgeons and beekeepers on the use of the Cascade for treatment of disease in bees, when the UK authorised products no longer work:

  1. If the beekeeper has a vet: the beekeeper identifies the problem with the hives by consulting his or her vet or provides his or her vet with an assessment of the situation in the hive. Beekeeper and vet discuss the situation and decide on the course of action (the issue of the fees charged is a matter between vet and beekeeper).
  2. If the beekeeper does not have a vet:
    • a) The beekeeper consults initially with qualified beekeepers or bee inspectors, who can indicate if there is a need for an imported product instead of a UK product;
    • b) The beekeeper contacts a beekeeping organisation or the VMD and asks for a vet in the area that can help;
    • c) The beekeeper then provides the chosen vet with an assessment of the situation in the hive and discusses the problem with him or her (the issue of the fees charged is a matter between vet and beekeeper).
  3. The vet applies for and obtains the Special Import Certificate (SIC) on behalf of the beekeeper and instructs the beekeeper on the correct use of the product highlighting any particular safety issues (as per Summary of Product Characteristics). The options regarding importation and supply of the product to the beekeeper are as follows:
    • a) importation by a wholesale dealer: a wholesale dealer may import a product in bulk in order to supply against SICs (in order to do so, the wholesale dealer needs to apply for a Wholesale Dealer Import Certificate for the relevant product from the VMD). The vet can then either send the SIC to the wholesale dealer, who then invoices and sends the product directly to the beekeeper named on the SIC, or the vet can buy the product from the wholesale dealer and supply it to the beekeeper.
    • b) importation by the veterinarian: the vet can import the product and supply it directly to the beekeeper.
  4. The beekeeper uses the product and reports back to the vet any positive or negative results observed and also any adverse reactions that may have occurred. If there are adverse reactions, the vet (or the beekeeper) should also report these to the VMD.
Last Updated: 27 January 2014

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