Farmers are being warned to avoid stockpiling prescription-only animal medicines amid the spread of coronavirus as it could be 'illegal'.
There have been 'isolated reports' of some encouragement being made to farmers to stock up in the light of the developing Covid-19 situation.
But the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) has now warned that this is both 'illegal and counter-productive'.
The body has highlighted the potential dangers to animal health and welfare, while also reminding of the legal obligations of those prescribing medicines.
Stephen Dawson, secretary general of AMTRA said: “Stocking up with prescription-only medicines such as wormers and flukicides is not appropriate, whether due to coronavirus or any other reasons.
“These medicines should be prescribed when they are needed by a Registered Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA), also known as an SQP, or by a vet, based on the needs and circumstances at the time.
"These needs will vary across the year depending on a variety of reasons, including disease challenge and the weather, and from year to year.”
AMTRA states that the Veterinary Medicines Regulations make it an offence to prescribe more than the minimum amount required for the treatment.
Additionally, prescribers are required to take into account the disease and the responsible use of medicines - which for cattle and sheep anthelmintics means the requirement to follow the recommendations of COWS and SCOPS.
Mr Dawson added: “It’s not possible to know in advance what the most appropriate medicine will be, and it could be wasted money or even counter-productive.
"It also means that farmers will miss out on timely advice about the best strategies for use, and reminders about safe usage and the correct administration technique.”