To save money, livestock breeders in Idlib buy medicines from warehouses without prescription

A veterinary pharmacy in Idlib governorate - July 12, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

A veterinary pharmacy in Idlib governorate - July 12, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Idlib – Anas al-Khouli

Veterinarian Hani Idris is considering closing his veterinary pharmacy due to the decline in sales and the losses he suffered after farmers and breeders replaced veterinarians with veterinary medicine warehouses to purchase medicines at a lower price.

Idris, who owns a veterinary pharmacy in Idlib governorate, said that some livestock breeders go to the veterinary drug stores and explain the problem or disease that afflicted the animal so that the warehouse supervisor prescribes the drugs and sells them to the breeders at the same wholesale price that he sells to the doctor.

The veterinarian complained that the process of diagnosis and the sale of medicines by drug stores to farmers directly greatly harmed veterinarians who work in the field of examining sick animals and doctors who work in the field of veterinary medicine trade.

Veterinary warehouses are prohibited from selling veterinary medicines to breeders, according to the internal regulations of the Veterinary Doctors Syndicate, which is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture.

However, there are no instructions that prevent diagnosis, the veterinarian told Enab Baladi.

This problem affects hundreds of veterinarians in northern Syria, as warehouse owners monopolize sales to breeders, while the veterinarians’ situation is “deplorable,” which forces them to sell at the cheapest prices or to take modest wages during their field diagnosis in order to secure their daily sustenance, according to Dr. Idris.

What are the sources of medicines?

The veterinarian, Jamal Shehadeh, a displaced person residing in the city of Idlib, told Enab Baladi that some types of medicines are frequently requested during the seasons, such as medicines for colds and pneumonia, which are popular among animals during this period, due to the presence of respiratory infections.

A number of veterinarians interviewed by Enab Baladi demanded the imposition of “strict” control over warehouses selling veterinary medicines and the imposition of “deterrent” penalties on warehouses that sell breeders directly.

Regarding the profits, the veterinarian Idris explained that the profits of veterinary pharmacies were previously in most medicines ranging between $ 0.5 to $1.5, but after the veterinary warehouses sold the medicines directly to farmers, the veterinary pharmacies were forced to reduce the profits to $0.10 to $0.50.

Concerning the sources of veterinary medicines, the veterinarian said that they reach northern Syria from three sources, the first being locally manufactured through laboratories operating in the region and reaching 30% of what is available in the north.

The second source is foreign medicines imported through the border crossings with Turkey, which amount to 50%, and the remaining 20% arrive unofficially from regime-held areas.

Salvation Government comments

The Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib region, the governing body of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), receives complaints from veterinarians about warehouses selling veterinary medicines to consumers at wholesale prices to combat these cases.

The head of the Animal Health Department at the SSG’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Abdul Hai al-Youssef, told Enab Baladi that the number of these cases cannot be considered “many,” describing them as “limited individual cases.”

Al-Youssef indicated that there are many controls in place and regulatory decisions to deal with any violation of this kind.

Regarding the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation to guarantee the rights of veterinarians and veterinary pharmacies, the head of the Animal Health Department said that complaints of veterinarians and farmers are being reviewed, and tours are being organized to verify complaints in cooperation and coordination with the supply teams.

Lack of experience

Some farmers and livestock breeders complain about the lack of veterinary expertise in northern Syria, which has led them to refrain from consulting veterinarians in the event of animal disease and not to buy medicines from agricultural pharmacies, relying on their own experience.

Abdulqader al-Ali, 48, a displaced cow breeder from the Eastern al-Ghouta region and residing in the city of Idlib, told Enab Baladi that he has been working in animal husbandry for more than 30 years, and he was unaware of animal diseases and their treatment.

He added, “We used to bring the veterinarian to examine the animals, then give the necessary prescription, and we would learn by observing the doctor and memorizing the prescribed treatment.”

After he came to northern Syria through forced displacement, al-Ali noticed the “lack of experience” of veterinarians, especially with regard to treating cows, which led to farmers not trusting doctors and relying mainly on their long experience.

Hussein Mohammad, 35, one of the breeders, said that, in the past, there was “strict” control over veterinary medicines and their validity and efficacy. Currently, there is no confidence in veterinary medicines, whether they are expired or contain active substances, with regard to the focus on what is declared on the packaging.

Mohammad expressed his lack of confidence in veterinary medicines and veterinarians and considered this a justification for going directly to veterinary warehouses to order exclusively imported foreign medicines and not to use local ones.

As for Abdulqader al-Ali, he told Enab Baladi that the livestock breeder suffers from harsh conditions and is looking for the lowest prices and the best guarantee for veterinary medicines, whether these prices are available at veterinary pharmacies or warehouses.

What is the risk of wrong diagnosis?

The veterinarian, Jamal Shehadeh, warned against animal breeders going directly to drug stores without consulting a veterinarian, describing this as a “dangerous matter” that harms animals and humans because some drugs lead to “medicine residues” with “dangerous” effects.

“Medicine residues” are the residues of treatment found in edible meat and animal products.

According to Dr. Shehadeh, animal breeders are unaware that veterinary treatment is based on gradual administration of drugs.

The veterinarian prescribes diluted drugs and estimates the concentration of the antibiotic based on the condition of the disease and the secondary damages that may result from it. In case of non-response, he switches to stronger or higher-concentration drugs.

Shehadeh explained the danger of frequent use of strong antibiotics by the decline in the response of animals to these antibiotics due to the cellular immunity caused by these drugs.

The first time the response is 100%, and then it reaches 70%, and it gradually decreases until the animals cannot be treated with time.

As for the extent of the damage caused by strong antibiotics given to animals to humans, the veterinarian said that there are “strict” instructions that breeders must apply in the event that strong antibiotics are prescribed to animals, including throwing away the milk produced from treated animals for a period after giving them medicines, as these drugs cause carcinogenic substances in milk that pose a threat to human life.

Some of these drugs also lead to a change in the taste of meat, and giving animals doses of them without justification leads to the danger of eating these meats by humans, which can happen if the veterinarian is not consulted.



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