Writing a prescription

A ‘veterinary prescription’ is defined by EU law as ‘any prescription for a veterinary medicinal product issued by a professional person qualified to do so in accordance with applicable national law’. The word ‘veterinary’ takes its normal meaning ‘of or for animals’. In the UK there are two classes of medicines available only on veterinary prescription, POM-V and POM-VPS, described in the Introduction. Only in the case of POM-V medicines does the veterinary prescription have to be issued by a veterinary surgeon. The act of prescribing is taken to mean the decision made by the prescriber as to which product should be supplied, taking account of the circumstances of the animals being treated, the available authorized veterinary medicinal products and the need for responsible use of medicines. Good prescription principles include the following. Only 1, 8, 10 and 12 are legal requirements; the remainder are good practice.

  1. Print or write legibly in ink or otherwise so as to be indelible. Sign in ink with your normal signature. Include the date on which the prescription was signed.
  2. Use product or approved generic name for drugs in capital letters – do not abbreviate. Ensure the full name is stated, to include the pharmaceutical form and strength.
  3. State duration of treatment where known and the total quantity to be supplied.
  4. Write out microgram/nanogram – do not abbreviate.
  5. Always put a 0 before an initial decimal point (e.g. 0.5 mg), but avoid the unnecessary use of a decimal point (e.g. 3 mg not 3.0 mg).
  6. Give precise instructions concerning route/dose/formulation. Directions should preferably be in English without abbreviation. It is recognized that some Latin abbreviations are used (p.441).
  7. Any alterations invalidate the prescription – rewrite.
  8. Prescriptions for Schedule 2 and 3 Controlled Drugs can be typed, computer generated or hand written but must be signed in ink by the person prescribing. They should include the total quantity in both words and figures, the form and strength of the drug, and are only valid for 28 days; repeat prescriptions are not allowed. In addition, the RCVS Registration Number of the prescribing veterinary surgeon must be stated. Prescriptions for Schedule 4 Controlled Drugs do not require the RCVS Registration Number and repeat prescriptions are allowed.
  9. The prescription should not be repeated more than three times without re-checking the patient.
  10. Include both the prescriber’s and the client’s names and addresses.
  11. Include the directions that the prescriber wishes to appear on the labelled product. It is good practice to include the words ‘For animal treatment only’.
  12. Include a declaration that, ‘This prescription is for an animal under my care’ or words to that effect.
  13. If drugs that are not authorized for veterinary use are going to be used when there is an alternative that is ‘higher’ in the prescribing cascade, there should be a clear clinical justification made on an individual basis and recorded in the clinical notes or on the prescription.

The following is a standard form of prescription used:



  • For animal treatment only
  • For an animal under my care

Non-repeat/repeat X 1, 2 or 3

Name, qualifications and signature of veterinary surgeon

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