Farm Ireland

Monday 20 November 2017

One of the country's largest farms 'grossly oversupplied' with antibiotics by chemist

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Anton McNulty

ONE of the largest livestock farms in the country was ‘grossly over supplied’ with antibiotics and other prescription only medication by a Crossmolina-based pharmacists, a sitting of Castlebar District Court heard yesterday (Tuesday).

Daragh Quinn of Quinn’s Chemist, Bridge Street, Crossmolina, Co Mayo admitted to 34 breaches of the European Communities Animal Remedies regulations following the supply of medication to a farm in Co Galway.

The court heard that the 34 charges were brought against Mr Quinn in his capacity as a chemist and director of Quinn Chemists and against the company, Quinn Chemists Limited. Ms Cliona Boland, counsel for the Department of Agriculture who brought the prosecution explained the defendant was in breach of regulation 28 which is the supply of animal remedies without a valid prescription; regulation 48 which is to utter an altered document and falsely endorse a document; and regulation 43 which is to falsely endorse a prescription.

The court heard that the antibiotics were supplied to farmer Richard Bourns of Lisbeg Farms, Eyrecourt, Co Galway, which is one of the largest farms in Connacht with up to 1,000 head of cattle and 2,500 sheep.

Mr Louis Riordan, a Veterinary Inspector with the Department of Agriculture told Judge Mary Devins that on September 23, 2015, department officials inspected Lisbeg Farms and found a large quantity of antibiotics and formed the view there was a ‘gross oversupply of antibiotics’.

The antibiotics came from Quinn’s Chemist in Crossmolina and Mr Riordan visited the premises on September 29, 2015. On inspecting Mr Quinn’s files and comparing them with the antibiotics found on the farm, Mr Riordan said there was an oversupply of medication sent to the farm.

Mr Quinn would receive a prescription from the farm and Mr Riordan said he would dispense medication in excess of what was required. When asked by Ms Boland, how this was illegal, Mr Riordan replied that every prescription has an expiry date and some of the prescriptions were dispensed when they had expired.

Giving an example of Mr Quinn’s practice, Mr Riordan explained that on one occasion he dispensed a total of 26 bottles of a certain antibiotic over a period of time despite the prescription being for six bottles. There were no repeat orders with any of the prescriptions he said.

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Between January 1, 2015 and September 21, 2015, he said Mr Quinn received €9,280.50 for prescribed antibiotics, €7,466.50 for prescription only medication and €10,260 for vaccines which did not require a prescription from Lisbeg Farms.

In his evidence, Mr Riordan said there was serious misuse of antibiotics on the farm and added there seemed to be little examination of animals by vets.

The overuse of antibiotics, Mr Riordan said was a problem as it can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to them and increase the spread of superbugs. He said they can also make a sick animals appear healthier than it is and could also be used to potentially increase the growth of livestock. He said the practice employed on Lisbeg Farms, ‘paints a very sad picture’.


While Mr Quinn admitted to the charges, he said he provided veterinarian prescriptions for farms around Ireland and there was no problems. When explaining the discrepancies regarding the prescriptions, he said he would receive a phone call from the farm requesting an order.

After preparing the order, he would a place it in a basket for sending but stressed he never sent the product until the prescription arrived. He said he never sent prescription only medicine without a prescription.

He said the different dates on his records would be for the day he prepared the order and the day the medicine was dispensed. He explained he had a similar method when preparing an order for a nursing home as it saves time.

When Mr Eoin Garavan, counsel for Mr Quinn put it to Mr Riordan that this could have occurred, he replied that he found it ‘extremely unlikely’. However he admitted the Department had no other evidence against Mr Quinn on the matter supply without a prescription.

Mr Quinn added that his premises had been inspected by Department of Agriculture officials on a previous occasion and his practices were never queried before this. He said he admitted making mistakes but was not trying to hide anything and felt his detailed accounts could lead ‘to my downfall’.

The court heard that Mr Quinn no longer provides prescription only medication to Mr Bourns and was phasing out of veterinary pharmacy. He said the repercussions for an error were too great for a small pharmacists to deal with and felt he was a ‘victim of circumstance’.

Although Mr Quinn pleaded guilty, Judge Devins felt it would be difficult to find him guilty on some of the charges against him based on the evidence she heard. She adjourned the closing submissions until September 12 in Ballina District Court.

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