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Veterinary Medicinal Products for use in Pigeons

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is the body responsible for ensuring all Veterinary Medicinal Products (VMPs) in the United Kingdom are marketed in accordance with the Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMR). The VMD's aim is to protect public health, animal health and the environment and to promote animal welfare by assuring safety, quality and efficacy of veterinary medicines. One of the purposes of the VMR is to prevent veterinary medicines being purchased or administered in a way that could potentially damage the health of both humans and animals.

In the past many pigeon product were being imported into the UK illegally. Such products included antibiotics. As a result we worked closely with the representatives from the pigeon industry to address this issue. There is now a full range of veterinary medicines available for use in pigeons that are legal and readily obtainable in the UK.

Before a veterinary medicine can be sold or supplied in the UK it must be approved by the VMD. Such approval is recognised by the issue of a marketing authorisation or, as in the case for many treatments for pigeons, approval under the Exemption for Small Pet Animal Scheme. In all cases, the labelling of UK authorised VMPs will be in English. The Exemption for Small Pet Animal Scheme products may only be used in one or more of the following species: aquarium animals, caged birds, homing pigeons, terrarium animals, small rodents, ferrets and rabbits. This Exemption applies only to pet animals that are not intended to produce food for human consumption.

There are a number of products available under the Exemption for the treatment of pigeons. These products have been manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards and contain important labelling information regarding correct use, dosage, health and safety issues, and disposal advice. Products marketed under the Exemption can often be identified by the manufacturers' claim on the product labels. This is usually done by displaying the statement "This veterinary medicine is marketed in accordance with the Small Animal Exemption Scheme". Antibiotics products are not part of this exemption and may only be administered in accordance with an appropriate prescription.

However, when products are not available in the UK then special dispensation to hold, supply and administer unauthorised VMPs may be made by the VMD to vets. This is done through the provision of the Special Import Scheme. This Scheme allows vets to import authorised veterinary medicines from other countries.

By purchasing and administering unauthorised veterinary medicines many pigeon keepers may be unaware of the dangers involved, and inadvertently put the health and safety of their animals, themselves and indeed the environment at risk.

Possession, supply, or administration to animals of unauthorised medicines are offences under the VMR with a penalty on summary conviction of a fine up to a maximum of £5,000 and imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or on conviction on indictment of 2 years imprisonment and a limitless fine.

A full list of UK authorised VMPs can be found on the Product Information Database.

Last Updated: 14 May 2013

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