Classification of veterinary medicines in Ireland

In the European Union, veterinary medicines are categorised as either requiring a veterinary prescription or not. This classification is based on the evaluation of risks involved in handling, storing or using the medicine, along with compliance with legal requirements set by the legislation.

Medicines categorised as requiring a prescription can be denoted by the symbol ‘POM’. They  are dispensed based on a veterinary prescription and cannot be supplied via the internet or by mail order according to national legislation. Some POM products are restricted for use only by veterinary practitioners and cannot be dispensed to farmers or other users.

For medicines not requiring a veterinary prescription, they are further classified under national legislation as follows:

  • POM(E): These medicines can be sold by a veterinary practitioner, pharmacist, or for certain specific products, by a responsible person from a licensed retailer.
  • LR: These medicines can be sold by a veterinary practitioner, pharmacist, or by a responsible person from a pharmacy or licensed retailer.
  • CAM: These medicines can be sold at a veterinary practice, pharmacy, or licensed retailer, or premises that is registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Veterinary medicines categorised as 'LR' (‘LM’ previously) may be sold without a veterinary prescription by outlets licensed by DAFM. Medicines categorised as ‘LR’, or ‘CAM’ may be purchased by mail order or on the internet, but only from suppliers specifically licensed by DAFM. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine determines which categories of prescription medicines and POM(E) products can be dispensed by Licensed Retailers, in addition to medicines denoted LR and CAM. If you have any questions regarding prescribing and dispensing practices, you can contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The approved method of supply can be found in the package leaflet of the product. For veterinary medicines authorised before 18 January 2022, the approved method of supply was given in the package leaflet with the relevant symbol denoting supply route on the label or outer container if the label space was insufficient. However, since January 2022, the labelling requirements have changed and the symbol denoting the method of supply is now located in the package leaflet.

Previously, there were other supply categories under national legislation, but they were revoked in 2022. Some products with the older categories displayed may still be in circulation until January 2027, as companies have time to comply with the new legal requirements by changing their product labels. 

The Veterinary Council of Ireland has published a code of professional conduct, known as ‘Ethical Veterinary Practice’ regarding the prescribing of medicines by veterinary practitioners in Ireland.

Details of the HPRA policy on the allocation of the method of supply to a product are available here. DAFM regulates the importation of veterinary medicines that may be needed for special circumstances, including their supply classification.