Veterinarian responsibilities around RVM labelling

18 December 2023

The Racing Integrity Board (RIB) is currently performing thoroughbred and harness racing stable and greyhound kennel audits around the country, which have raised concerns about the labelling of dispensed restricted veterinary medicines (RVMs) and prescription only medicines.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has made the correct labelling of RVMs a requirement in their new Thoroughbred Welfare Detailed Assessment Standards (available here), so that trainers found with unlabelled or incorrectly labelled medications and treatments will receive an RIB improvement notice.

The NZTR Welfare Detailed Assessments Standards state that all substances need to be clearly labelled, and the label must have the name of the veterinarian prescribing the treatment and name of the horse, as well as the name of the medication, its dosage and date it was prescribed.

As a result, it is likely that equine veterinarians may hear from trainers if they receive an RIB improvement notice because of unlabelled and incorrectly labelled veterinary medicines. Likewise, veterinarians with greyhound racing clients may be asked to label or relabel RVMs and prescription medications.

The Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinarians expects veterinarians to ensure that the labelling of any RVM or prescribed medicine, when dispensed, complies with the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA)’s Guide to Veterinary Authorising (Prescribing) and Dispensing. Section 8 explicitly outlines the labelling requirements, which support NZTR’s Standards.

In addition, an authorising veterinarian must ensure that all necessary information is provided to the person using the RVM to allow them to comply with the product’s conditions of registration.

Veterinarians should familiarise themselves with the expectations around appropriate labelling and instructions for users of RVMs that they authorise. The best practice is for vets to administer RVMs directly to the animals requiring treatment rather than dispensing RVMs to clients, where possible.