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 Distribution categories section. 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.

  A written prescription for a veterinary medicine must include the following and be printed or written legibly in ink or otherwise so as to be indelible:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of the person prescribing the product
  • Qualifications of the person prescribing the product (it is good practice to include their RCVS or SQP number)
  • Name and address of the owner or keeper of the animal
  • Identification (including the species) of the animal or group of animals to be treated
  • Premises at which the animal(s) are kept, if this is different from the address of the owner or keeper
  • Date
  • Signature (or other authentication) of the person prescribing the product - sign in ink with your normal signature
  • Name and amout of the product prescribed
    • - 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
    • - Write out microgram/nanogram - do not abbreviate
    • - 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)
    • - State duration of treatment where known and the total quantity to be supplied
    • - Give precise instructions concerning route/dose/formulation. Directions should preferably be in English without abbreviation. It is recognized that some Latin abbreviations are used (see p. 290)
  • Necessary warnings
  • Withdrawal period, if relevant
  • The directions that the prescriber wishes to appear on the labelled product. It is good practice to include the words 'For animal treatment only'
  • A declaration that 'This prescription is for an animal under my care' or words to that effect
  • If it is prescribed under the cascade, a statement to that effect. 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.

  Written prescriptions for POM-V or POM-VPS medicines:

  • Are valid for 6 months unless the prescriber states a shorter period
  • May only be used once unless the prescriber specifies that it is repeatable
  • If repeatable, the number of repeat supplies that may be made must be specified (if the prescription is not repeatable, it is considered good practice for this to be stated).

  In addition to the general prescription requirements above, a written prescription for a Schedule 2 or 3 Controlled Drug (CD) should state an exact dose in words as well as in figures (e.g. not ‘as directed’), and it must include the RCVS number of the veterinary surgeon prescribing the drug. A written prescription for Schedule 2 or 3 CDs can only be dispensed once and only within 28 days. Single prescriptions with multiple dispenses (repeatable prescriptions) are not allowed for Schedule 2 and 3 CDs. It is good practice to mark the prescription 'no repeats'.

  For all prescriptions, any alterations invalidate the prescription – it must be rewritten.

  The following is a standard form of prescription used:


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Non-repeat/repeat X 1, 2 or 3

Name, qualifications, RCVS number and signature of veterinary surgeon

OR SQP number and signature

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