§ Mr. Laurence Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on proposals to examine the rules in relation to prescription-only farm medicines and the cost of administering them. 
§ Mr. Bradshaw
The rules in relation to prescription-only farm medicines have been the subject of three reviews. In the UK, the Independent Review of Dispensing by Veterinary Surgeons of Prescription Only Medicines (the Marsh Report) in 2001 and the 2003 Competition Commission Inquiry into the Cost of Prescription only Medicines both recognised the benefits of retaining the UK's distribution system for veterinary medicinal products while recommending changes to its detailed operation. This was, therefore the Government's aim during negotiations on the Review of European medicines legislation.
The Review of European medicines legislation has been completed and an amending Directive 2004/28/EC was published in the Official Journal on 30 April 2004. We are now able to implement the changes agreed in the three reviews. In taking forward the provisions for veterinary POMs we expect to establish a system that will retain the key elements of the current distribution arrangements.
We will consult widely on these proposals and on their cost. Officials from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate are already carrying out informal discussions with interested organisations. We intend to carry out a formal consultation exercise, when our proposals are developed further, at the beginning of next year so as to meet the deadline for implementation of the changes to the legislation of 30 October 2005.