Regulatory controls on the supply of veterinary medicines in Ireland

National legislation establishes various categories of supply to which the HPRA can allocate a veterinary medicine at the time of initial authorisation. This is a risk-management measure that is subject to review on the basis of experience in use.

The prescribing and dispensing regimes in Ireland are defined by national legislation (previously SI No 786 0f 2007). New national legislation is being developed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) at the time of writing (August 2022). The approved method of supply is given in the package leaflet of the product. For veterinary medicines that were authorised before 18 January 2022, the approved method of supply was given in the package leaflet with the relevant symbol denoting the route of supply stated on the label of the medicine (or outer container where there is insufficient room on the label), however with the application of Regulation 2019/6 it is no longer permissible to display such symbols on the immediate product labelling of new products. For products that were on the market prior to 28 January 2022, the labelling of the medicines concerned does not have to be updated to the new requirements until 2027.

The following table lists the symbols and their associated meaning as governed by the legislation*:


Route of Supply 

Associated Meaning


Veterinary Practitioner use only

For use by veterinary practitioners only


Veterinary Practitioner use only

For use by veterinary practitioners only


Prescription only medicine

For use under the prescription of a veterinary practitioner


Prescription only medicine exempt

For supply by veterinary practitioners or pharmacists (in person) only


Pharmacy only

For supply by veterinary practitioners or from pharmacies only


Licensed merchant

For supply by a merchant licensed to sell animal remedies


Companion animal medicine

For supply by a retailer registered to sell such medicines

Please contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in relation to any questions relating to prescribing and dispensing practices. The Veterinary Council of Ireland has published a code of professional conduct, known as ‘Ethical Veterinary Practice’ in relation to prescribing of medicines by veterinary practitioners in Ireland.

The importation of veterinary medicines is regulated by the DAFM. Prescribed medicines (‘POMs’) are dispensed in accordance with, and on presentation of, a veterinary prescription; therefore national legislation does not permit their supply via the internet or by mail order.    

Veterinary medicines categorised as 'Licensed Merchant' (LM) may be sold without a veterinary prescription by outlets which are licensed by the DAFM. Medicines authorised by the HPRA for animals that have a designated route of supply of ‘LM’ (Licensed Merchant) or ‘CAM’ (Companion Animal Medicine) may be purchased from internet sites or by mail order but only where the supplier is specifically licensed by the DAFM. It is responsibility of the user to ensure that veterinary medicines are sourced in accordance with the legislation.  

In respect of veterinary medicines authorised centrally in the European Union, these may be supplied throughout the Community. In this case the European Commission establishes the appropriate method of supply. In both situations, the allocation of an appropriate category of supply is based on an evaluation of the risks involved and taking account of the available legal categories which are defined by national and European legislation. The method allocated is subject to review based on the experience with the product in the market and on any change in the benefit:risk profile.  Details of the HPRA policy on the allocation of the method of supply to a product are available here.

*Legal interpretation set out by SI No 786 of 2007