An animal drug company accused of ‘putting short-term profits ahead of horse welfare’ by promoting cheap dewormers has vowed to review its future communications.
VetUK sent an email with the subject ‘Horse wormers from £4.33’, with a selection of different brands with prices highlighted and links to ‘buy now’. There was no advice on appropriate deworming programs and the need for faecal worm egg counts, nor the dangers of growing resistance to dewormers included in the message.
David Rendle, chairman of the health and medicines committee of the British Equine Veterinary Association, said H&H“It is extremely disappointing to see dewormers being so heavily advertised by companies who apparently put their short-term profits above the welfare of equines and the long-term effectiveness of these products. .
“We now have resistance to all classes of dewormers and it is totally irresponsible to promote these products based on their low cost.”
Mr Rendle said the products should only be used where there has been “careful consideration of the risk of clinical disease and appropriate diagnostic testing”.
“Cost shouldn’t be a factor in deciding which product to use and when to use it,” he said. “Antibacterial drugs would never be advertised in this way, so why is it acceptable for dewormers? Resistant worms pose a much more immediate threat to horse welfare than resistant bacteria.
“Will the equine industry ever realize the threat resistant parasites pose to horse welfare and the future viability of the industry?
H&H has long raised the issue of dewormer resistance and that owners need to take urgent avoidance action. It has been recommended since 1985 that horses should not be routinely dewormed, and it is believed that if all horse owners turn to targeted deworming – using the drugs only when needed, which can be determined by testing diagnostic tests, including fecal worm egg counts and other tests. – it could reduce drug use by 80%.
A Vet UK spokesperson said H&H: “At VetUK we understand the importance for horse owners to use dewormers responsibly, at the right dosage and in the right season.
“However, we regret not having reiterated advice in the communication email encouraging owners to perform worm egg counts to determine if dewormers are needed, or highlighting the dangers of resistance caused by deworming when it is not necessary.
“As a result, we will be reviewing our communications to ensure that this advice is given.”
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