Dungannon poultry farmer found guilty of illegally importing prescription veterinary drugs – Armagh I

A County Tyrone poultry farmer was convicted at Dungannon Crown Court today of unlawfully importing prescription veterinary drugs without a licence.

Paul Hobson, 60, who ran a poultry business in Mullybrannon Road, Dungannon, was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for three years, after pleading guilty to various charges in court, including the illegal importation, attempted importation and obstruction of Ministry of Health enforcement. officers.

The Court heard that law enforcement officers from the Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG) of the Department of Health visited a poultry farm in Mullybrannon Road, Dungannon in October 2019 as part of a joint search operation with the police, the Ministry of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Directorate of Veterinary Medicines (VMD).

The search followed the earlier interception by Border Force agents of a large quantity of the unlicensed veterinary antibiotic, amoxicillin, from China destined for the farm. Other evidence of the illegal importation of veterinary drugs was also discovered during the search.

Following the search, a slaughter of all the poultry present on the premises, i.e. more than 160,000 chickens, was necessary to ensure the security of the food chain and public safety.

Peter Moore, senior drug enforcement officer at the Department of Health, who led the investigation, said: ‘This conviction sends a clear message that there are serious consequences if someone tries to circumvent the system regulated and the controls that are in place to ensure public safety and the integrity of the food chain. Members of the public could have been endangered as a result of this illegal activity.

“The public, however, can trust that the Medicines Regulatory Group and its statutory partner agencies, locally and nationally, will take decisive action to prevent and detect those who act in this way.”

Canice Ward, head of the department’s medicines regulatory group, added: “This was one of the largest quantities of unauthorized veterinary prescription antibiotics to be seized in Northern Ireland. The offender in this case acted recklessly by importing products without being able to confirm their actual contents, whether they were effective, whether they would cause harm to animals or humans, or whether they had been manufactured, stored or transported in good condition. It also ran the risk of potentially harmful drug residues appearing in foodstuffs derived from food-producing animals and posing a significant risk to human health.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most serious threats to health. The Department promotes the responsible use of antimicrobials, particularly antibiotics, in human and veterinary medicine, in farm animals and in companion animals. The spread of antimicrobial resistance in the environment is also a growing concern.

The emergence and spread of drug resistant insects is due to the overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals. Antimicrobial resistance to veterinary drugs not only affects the health and welfare of humans and animals, but could also seriously affect the agriculture industry as a whole due to its potential impact on trade.

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