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Distribution and Use of Veterinary Drugs in Denmark

Danish legislation is designed to ensure that distribution of veterinary medicines takes place through authorised pharmacies. Since 1990, Danish veterinarians have no longer had the right to dispense.

Vitamins and certain ectoparasitic drugs and mineral complexes are non-prescriptive. Most other drugs for veterinary use are prescription medicine.
All prescription-only medicine may be obtained only from a pharmacy or from a veterinarian. All veterinary products must be distributed to the veterinarian by a pharmacy. The veterinarian may hold a stock of products obtained from a pharmacy, and may on certain conditions supply products directly to the farmer for the treatment of animals under his care. Feed mills, which are subject to licensing and inspection, can hold licensed premixes for the purpose of manufacturing medicated feeding stuffs. Farmers may obtain medicated feeding stuffs from feed mills on a veterinary prescription.
Veterinary vaccines can be distributed either by pharmacies or by the National Veterinary Institute.
Pet shops cannot sell veterinary drugs, and wholesale distribution companies can only supply other wholesalers or pharmacies.
Some vitamins, iron complexes and ectoparasitic drugs are available from dealers authorised by the Danish Medicines Agency to market these specific compounds.
Registration made by the veterinarian and by the pharmacy:
Since mid-2000, any use or handing out of prescription-only drugs for food or fur producing animals – including medicated feeding stuffs, sera and vaccines – must be recorded by the veterinarian and reported to an official register called VetStat. Likewise, pharmacies must report to VetStat on handing out prescription-only drugs, and feed-mills on handing out licensed food containing prescription-only drugs and coccidiostatic drugs. 

For animal species used for agricultural production (except horses), reporting from the veterinarian includes information on the veterinarian responsible for the treatment, the drug prescribed, identification of the target herd and the species  (including age-group and disease-group) to be treated. For horses and pet animals, reports are made only by the pharmacy.
Registrations made by the owner:
When herd owners use registered drugs for the treatment of food or fur producing animals, they must keep a journal concerning the animals treated, the drugs used, date and reason for treatment, dosage and administration route, responsible person, and origin of drug (if not handed out by a veterinarian). 

Recording is not required for treatment with iron compounds, minerals or vitamin compounds, for which no withdrawal period has been established. 

Registrations must be kept for 5 years.
Veterinarians must use registered veterinary medical products for animals. If a registered product does not exist for a condition, a veterinarian may exceptionally use, hand out or prescribe:
  1. A veterinary product registered for another species or for another condition in the same species, or, if this does not exist,
  2. A registered medical product authorised for use in human beings, or, if this does not exist,
  3. A compound prepared extemporaneously at a pharmacy in accordance with the terms of a veterinary prescription.
In accordance with EU-regulations, only drugs, for which an MRL (Maximum Residue Level) has been established, may be used.
Some substances may not be used. Thus stilbenes and thyreostatics are prohibited. However, thyreostatics may be used for cats or dogs with hyperthyroidism.
Hormones and substances with hormone-like effect, including somatotropins, are not allowed for food producing or fur animals for growth and yield promoting purposes.
Beta-agonists and substances with estrogenic, androgenic, and gestagenic effect are prohibited for use in production animals. However, in accordance with EU-regulations, registered drugs with estrogenic, androgenic and gestagenic effect may be used in production animals for zootechnical or therapeutic purposes provided that a number of conditions are met. Likewise, beta-agonists and allyltrenbolone may be used in horses for specified therapeutic purposes. 
Certain groups of drugs may only be used by the veterinarian in person:
  1. Analgesics for injection including non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for injection.
  2. Anaesthetics for inhalation and injection.
  3. Euphoriants.
  4. Selenium-containing drugs for injection.
  5. Direct-acting parasympathomimetics for injection.
  6. The following hormones and compounds with hormonal effect:
    • Adrenocorticotropic hormones for injection.
    • Natural and synthetic adrenal cortex steroids for injection.
    • Beta-agonists for injection (beta-agonists for oral administration for therapeutic treatment of horses allowed under the responsibility of the veterinarian).
    • Oxytocin and analogous compounds for injection to enhance labour.
    • Progesterones for zootechnical use.
    • Prostaglandin​​s and analogous compounds for injection.
    • Estradiol 17b for therapeutic use and estrogens for zootechnical​ use.
  7. Fluoroquinolones for injection.
  8. Drugs authorised for intravenous injection only (IV).​
Euphoriants may be handed out for peroral treatment of non-production animals. NSAIDs may be prescribed for identified animals up to 5 days of use. In herds of calves or pigs with a voluntary contract on veterinary advice (see below), the veterinarian can prescribe NSAIDs up to 35 days. However, specific conditions must be met as goes for prescribing antibiotics (see below).
Specific regulations apply to the prescription of antibiotics. Treatment of food producing animals may only take place if the activity of the drug is directed against existing diagnosed infection and aimed at animal health. Veterinarians may only on certain conditions supply or prescribe antibiotics for use by the farmer, and the farmer must follow the advice and instructions given by the veterinarian. Instructions must be given in writing and must include identification of target animals, diagnosis, drug and dosage, clinical symptoms that must be present before treatment, withdrawal period, and administration route. The veterinarian may only hand out or prescribe antibiotics for the farmer’s continued treatment of diseased animals, except for adult cattle, for a maximum of 5 days.
Antibiotics up to 35 days may be prescribed for poultry subject to public control, and for fur animals. For calves, lambs and kids less than 2 months old, antibiotic tablets up to 35 days may be prescribed, if disease may be expected to spread in the herd. In any case, the veterinarian must make a diagnosis during a farm visit before prescribing antibiotics.
Farmers with herds of cattle, pigs or farmed fish may sign a voluntary veterinary advisory service contract with a veterinarian. If such a contract has been made, the veterinarian must visit the farm not less than 12 times a year. The objectives of these contracts are to improve the standard of health of the herd, to minimize the risk of infectious diseases and to optimize the use of antibiotics in order to prevent the development of bacterial resistance. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics up to 35 days for fish, pigs and for calves less than one year old if the necessity for further treatment has been established during a visit, if the reason for further treatment is described, or if initiatives have been agreed upon by the owner in order to solve the problem. This must be recorded together with the regular instructions for use of drugs handed out or prescribed as described above.
Furthermore, if a veterinary advisory service contract has been signed, antibiotics may be prescribed or handed out to the owner for treatment of adult cattle for a 5-day period, or prescribed for one treatment of an infected mammary gland in dry cows. The veterinarian must always initiate the treatment of adult cattle, thus the farmer can only get access to finishing treatment.
Fluoroquinolones may only be used, handed out or prescribed for production animals for a maximum treatment period of 5 days, if it has been verified by a laboratory examination that the agent causing disease is not sensitive to any other permitted antibiotic. In case of an acute disease, treatment with fluoroquinolones may be initiated before the result of the laboratory examination is known, but another drug must be used, if the causative agent shows sensitivity to other kinds of antibiotics than fluoroquinolones. In any case of use of fluoroquinolones for production animals, the Regional Veterinary Officer must be informed within two weeks after termination of the treatment.
Withdrawal periods and control for residues of veterinary drugs:
Whenever antibiotics or other drugs, for which withdrawal periods have been set, are administered to production animals – either by the veterinarian in person or by the farmer –the veterinarian must inform the farmer or his substitute about the withdrawal periods for the drugs used, in order to avoid residues in meat from slaughtered animals and in products (milk, eggs and honey) to be delivered for human consumption. Such information must be given verbally and in writing, and the veterinarian must keep a copy for at least 5 years.
Meat, poultry meat, milk and eggs from treated animals are not allowed for human consumption during the withdrawal period. If animals are delivered for emergency slaughter within the withdrawal period, information regarding the withdrawal period, as described above, must accompany the animal to the slaughterhouse.
Danish provisions specify that it is prohibited to deliver animals for slaughter, or to deliver meat, milk, eggs, fish, honey or other animal products for consumption if they contain residues of a drug in an amount that exceeds the MRL established in the valid EU-provisions, or if they contain residues from illegal treatment. Likewise, it is prohibited to manufacture or sell meat or products for human consumption if they contain residues exceeding the MRLs.
Suspected violations of the provisions described will be punished with an administrative fine or reported to the police.
As required ​in EU-provisions, control for residues is performed in accordance with an annual residue plan. Furthermore, veterinarians and farmers are subject to control by the Regional Veterinary Officer.

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Last Modified 22. July 2016