I propose that Singapore look to veterinary pharmacy as a supportive arm to expand and diversify the roles required, beyond veterinarians and vet technicians, in the animal healthcare sector (Vets want welfare issues tackled in sector review; and Veterinary nurses, technicians want profession regulated, both May 27).
Having distinct roles can help distribute the heavy responsibility shouldered by vets and vet nurses.
In the United States, veterinary pharmacy is a field of pharmacy practice that carries out medication compounding, dispensing and drug therapy management for animals.
In current local practice, either vets directly carry out the sale of medications, or pet owners can have prescriptions dispensed at any community retail pharmacy.
The addition of veterinary pharmacists to support the animal sector can enhance animal health and welfare by ensuring that only necessary medicines at appropriate doses are prescribed.
Pharmacists, who are trained to practise based on guidelines and clinical data, could also help conduct research to develop local veterinary practices.
This would in turn help vets justify the therapeutic decisions they make to pet owners.
Separating prescriber and dispenser can have an overall cost-saving effect on pet healthcare bills.
More importantly, having a medication expert to regulate the use of medication can safeguard public health.
This would also help address a big contributing factor to antibiotic resistance: the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in the pet and animal sector.
Khor Qian Hui