Veterinary medicines

In the UK, the Veterinary Medicines Regulations (VMRs) provide a single, comprehensive set of controls on all aspects of veterinary medicines. These regulations are revoked, consulted upon, and replaced on a regular basis to ensure that they are up-to-date and fit for purpose.

The UK VMRs are informed by the Veterinary Medicinal Products Directive 2001/82/EC (as amended) and also implement the European Commission’s Community code relating to veterinary medicinal products. In September 2014 the Commission adopted proposals for new regulations on both veterinary medicinal products and medicated feed.

The following sections include useful information and resources you can use and share with your clients:

We also have information and resources on antimicrobial resistance

Homeopathic medicines

We cannot endorse the use of homeopathic medicines, or indeed any medicine making therapeutic claims, which have no proven efficacy. As with any medicine, we believe that veterinary medicinal products must be evidence-based, with any medicinal claims made by a manufacturer supported.

Misuse of prescriptions

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) provides guidance on controlled drugs and the misuse of drugs for the veterinary profession. VMD has also created an easy to use portal for reporting prescription misuse.

Prescribing cascade

Where no authorised veterinary medicine exists in the UK for a condition in a particular species, in order to avoid unacceptable suffering, a veterinarian responsible for an animal may treat that animal in accordance with the ‘prescribing cascade’ or simply ‘the cascade’. See the VMD guidance on prescribing unauthorised medicines.

We believe that the cascade provides much needed flexibility to allow veterinarians to treat animals where a licenced product for a condition in a particular species is not available in the UK.

Our activity on veterinary medicines


  • We are currently reviewing our Good Practice guide on Veterinary Medicines and expect it to be completed in spring 2016 
  • In November we responded to a World Veterinary Association consultation on various draft positions (304 KB PDF), including the international rescheduling of ketamine, which we oppose 
  • In November, we emailed our members a reminder on the rescheduling of ketamine to Schedule 2 and the requirement to use a specified form to requisition Schedule 2 and 3 drugs, both of which came into force on 30 November 2015 
  • In October, we wrote to Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) to outline the unique position of the UK with regards to the veterinary prescription within the Veterinary Medical Products (VMPs) legislation and offered to work with FVE towards a wording which addresses FVE concerns regarding quality assurance for the veterinary prescription whilst also allowing flexibility. BVA and FVE continue to take a different position on this issue
  • Throughout 2015 we have responded, both in liaison with FVE and directly to MEPs, our support or concern with regards proposed amendments to the VMPs legislation. We also responded to the EP’s amendments to the Medicated Feed legislation, seeking assurances that the articles will be fit for purpose if intended to be applied to companion animals
  • In July, we updated BVA members on the requirement to include an RCVS number on veterinary prescriptions for Schedule 2 and 3 drugs and we amended our veterinary prescription form
  • In July we responded to a City and Guilds consultation on the safe and responsible use of veterinary medicines (89 KB PDF)
  • In May, BVA and BVPA worked together on a statement regarding the implications of limiting use of anti-parasitics and coccidiostats as POM-V, which had been suggested under the VMPs and Medicated Feed legislation


Resources on veterinary medicines for BVA members