Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Prescription writing (USA)

Legal requirements

  • Prescription only medicines-veterinarian (POM-V) or prescription only medicines-veterinarian pharmacist and suitably qualified person (POM-VPS) may only be supplied or dispensed with a written prescription.
  • As the law stands a veterinary surgeon may write a prescription to have a POM-V, POM-VPS veterinary medicinal product dispensed by a pharmacist or dispense the veterinary medicine themselves (in which case they are deemed to have prescribed the medicine). The prescription for a POM-VPS medicine may be oral, if the VPS prescribing the medicine also supplies it, or written. Where a Veterinary Medicinal Product (VMP) is not supplied by the person prescribing it, then the prescription must be written. 
  • Prescriptions must be written in indelible ink.
  • Specific legal requirements for information to be included on the prescription are: 
    • Name, address and telephone number of the person prescribing the medication.
    • The relevant qualifications of the prescriber.
    • Name and address of the owner or keeper to whom the medication is to be dispensed.
    • The species of animal, identification and number of animals.
    • The premises at which the animals are kept if different from that of the owner/keeper.
    • Date of prescription. 
    • The signature or other authentication of the prescriber.'Other authentication' is not acceptable for a Controlled Drug.
    • The name and amount of the product prescribed.
    • Dose and administration of medication to be prescribed. The VMD have advised that dosage instruction of 'as directed' are not acceptable.
    • A statement that the medication is being prescribed for an animal under the care of the prescribing veterinary surgeon.
    • Any necessary warnings
    • Any relevant withdrawal period.

It is preferable for a prescription to be written in longhand by the veterinarian as this reduces the risk of fraudulent prescription handling.

  • In addition any instructions for repeating the prescription should also be included.

Prescriptions for schedule 2 controlled drugs should always be written in longhand and repeat prescriptions are not permitted. A written prescription for a Controlled Drug is valid for 28 days. A prescription for any other medicine is valid for 6 months or shorter if specified by the prescriber.

Other important points

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Terms used in prescriptions

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Snell M (2007) Ed. Medicines, Ethics and Practice: a Guide for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. 31st edn. Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. ISBN: 0853697442.
  • Bishop Y (2005) The Veterinary Formulary. 6th edn. Pharmaceutical Press in Association with BVA (including the BVACode of Practice on Medicines). ISBN: 0853695792.
  • Tennant B (2005) BSAVA Small Animal Formulary. 5th edn. British Small Animal Veterinary Association. ISBN: 0905214889.