Farm Ireland

Monday 21 January 2019

Cork vet admits supplying animal medications without prescription was 'madness'

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Stock photo

Louise Roseingrave

A vet has admitted to operating a system of ‘madness’ supplying animal medications without prescription at three pharmacies he owns in Cork.

Dan McCarthy, who is also a qualified pharmacist, admitted to dispensing prescription only medications for animals through three of his four pharmacies between 2009 and 2011.

Mr McCarthy admitted to dispensing veterinary medications to farmers and pet owners through his pharmacies in Classes Lake, Blackpool and Riverstick in Co Cork.

He said problems arose when his businesses became 'very busy' and the dispensing of veterinary medications required a 'lot of paperwork.'

“It was madness really, the way it was run,” Mr McCarthy admitted at a Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) disciplinary inquiry.

He faced three allegations including the supply of veterinary medical products without a valid prescription and operating a system whereby prescription-only vet medications were routinely supplied without prescription. In some instances, prescriptions were retrospectively completed.

Mr McCarthy, who currently employs 30 staff at his four pharmacies, admitted the practices uncovered between 2009 and 2011 were ‘not ideal.’

“It got busier than expected and when I was doing calls with different farmers, when I was out on the road, the pharmacy was a base for the vet work I was doing,” he said.

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PSI Inspector Liz Kielty examined 130 cases of antibiotics, hormones and steroids supplied to large animals such as cattle without prescription. She found a further 270 cases involving wormers, flea treatments and vaccines issued for small animals such as dogs and cats without prescription.

Ms Kielty found that Mr McCarthy had directed staff to ‘just go ahead and supply medications without consultation’ in cases of small animals. In cases of large animals, Mr McCarthy would sometimes call the pharmacy to notify staff that certain vet medication would be collected or a customer would arrive looking for medication and staff would follow Mr McCarthy’s verbal instructions over the phone.

Mr McCarthy, from Bandon, qualified as a vet in 1999 and went on to qualify as a pharmacist in 2008.

His legal representative Mr Mark Harty SC said Mr McCarthy was no longer dispensing veterinary medications through his pharmacies.

PSI Committee Chairman John Campion said the operational issues, which Mr McCarthy attributed to ‘madness on his part’ had ended shortly after the final PSI inspection of March 2011.

“There is no evidence of any further problems relating to compliance at any of the four pharmacies he controls,” Mr Campion said.

The inquiry concluded when Mr McCarthy agreed to a formal undertaking not to repeat this activity and to consent to be censured by the pharmacy regulator.

In 2017, Mr McCarthy was fined €2,500 at Cork circuit court following an appeal of a €10,000 fine issued after he was convicted of impeding Department of Agriculture officials who sought veterinary prescriptions records from his place of work.

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