News & Info

Access to pharmaceuticals- the New Zealand situation


I love drugs, although this hasn't always been the case! When we started studying pharmacology in our third year of veterinary school it was a nightmare subject at first for me, but over time and with repetition the names and classes of medicines became more and more familiar, until today I consider (most of) them to be my friends. I still remember our first pharmacology test with horror, it was the closest I've come to punching a classmate and student housemate of mine. He had a photographic memory and ended up finishing top of our class. To my disbelief he laughed at me and showed absolutely no sympathy when we were revising moments before the start of the test and I discovered I could not remember anything. Fortunately my memory returned in time to pass! I actually enjoy pharmacology now, and like to learn about and try out new products. We are often visited by sales representatives from drug firms and pharmaceutical wholesalers and I've found I can learn a lot from them.


New Zealand is the third country where I've worked as a vet over the course of my career and the worst by a country mile a far as availability and range of medicines goes. We are a small country with very rigorous (and expensive) drug registration standards, and often we'll hear of a drug that is very popular overseas but that is as far as it gets. Drug companies look at the cost of registering their product here against potential earnings and often decide that the likely returns are just too low to make it worth their while. We are also at the end of the supply line and so a shortage anywhere along the way be it in Europe, Asia or Australia knocks on to us and sometimes we can go for months waiting for a certain drug to be back in stock. Occasionally they are even just discontinued permanently! Note on the world pill map below NZ doesn't even feature. I rest my case! 


Until a few years ago we could import drugs relatively easily from overseas for specific patients if the required product wasn't available locally, but this loophole has been closed and it is now a long, tedious and expensive process to import anything. I've done it once, but will think twice before repeating the exercise. A recent example of MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) having to allow bulk imports from Australia happened over the 2018 Spring when disbudding of calves and develveting of stags was in full swing and the country ran out of animal registered local anaesthetic! We also often run into supply issues with 5 in 1 clostridial vaccines and dry cow intramammary remedies. With a very limited number of products available it just takes one major manufacturer to have a supply issue and just like that there is too little left to meet demand.


As medical professionals we have access to a whole spectrum of pharmaceutical products, a colleague of mine ended up in a Zambian prison when he was found with local anaesthetic in his first aid kit! Fortunately he was released fairly quickly. We have to reconcile our controlled drugs monthly to check that nothing has been stolen by staff feeding their addictions. On a far more serious note vets wanting to commit suicide can easily do so, and I have lost several colleagues this way. I recently learned that the real life James Herriot suffered from depression and that his boss, the real life Siegfried Farnon actually did end his own life. However don't worry about me, I would rather commit murder than suicide! That is tongue in cheek by the way, so if you have got on the wrong side of me, there is (probably) no need to watch your back.

 world pill



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Some animal mayhem!

We've created an online portal to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions or pet food and other animal health products. You can also view invoices and statements as well as update your and your animal's details.

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We have beautiful cat greeting cards available to help fund our kitten rehoming and stray cat desexing work. Thanks to Cat Rescue Christchurch  who also generously pay for many of our surgeries on strays! You can hire stock signs for your car or to put on the road, as well as orange flashing beacons and hi-viz vests from us to comply with the new regulations when moving stock. We've recently put shingle down in the parking area and made it drive through so please park inside and tell us what you think! Also have you noticed our freshly painted roof?

We have moved to 3328 Christchurch-Akaroa Rd near the Birdlings Flat turnoff, watch out for our big sign, you can't miss it. We have a much bigger range of foods and animal health products, including the BlackHawk working dog food at great prices. Our cattery is also open and looking great. Masterpet has taken over the cattery's food sponsorship with BlackHawk cat and kitten food, we'd also like to thank Hills Pet Nutrition for their food sponsorship over the cattery's first 5 years.

We have an inhouse blood analyzer at the clinic, so we can run many tests while you wait. This allows us to offer pre-anaesthetic testing as well as health screening for older animals, and provide an emergency service afterhours and weekends when the Christchurch laboratory is closed. We can also determine mineral levels in down cows. We also now have a portable ultrasound scanner, good news for pregnancy testing.

We once again have the cheap mismating injection available for bitches. This has been off the market for a few years now, but Paul has been able to have some compounded. We have some ideas to help you save on animal health expenses- ask us about very competitively priced BlackHawk farm dog food specially designed at Massey for NZ working dogs, and get to feed a premium, performance enhancing brand. Also the RFID electronic ear tags are now compulsory for cattle and deer. Ask us about ordering NAIT tags for your stock, or about the new tagging requirements. There is a lot more flexibility in what visible tags are acceptable- they don't all have to be yellow! We are able to procure eartags at below recommended retail prices.

We also have a large range of Acana/Orijen, Hills Science Diet and BlackHawk dog and cat food in stock. Paul can deliver to Akaroa on Mondays and Thursdays and to Diamond Harbour on Tuesdays.

Animal health information - Archives

Please contact us if you’d like copies of any of these. Many are now available to view as posts on Paul's Linkedin page. Also let us know if you’d like to see any other topics featured here.

A different perspective, Animal welfare, Accidental poisonings, Arthritis, Allergies, Above & beyond, After Hours, Akaroa or bust

Becoming a vet, Birthing & midwifery, Be wormwise this Autumn

Calici vaccination update- rabbits

Dental care, De sexing, Dogs, sheep measles & farm etiquette

External parasites, Euthanasia, EID's, Equine deworming recommendations & autumn animal health advice

First aid in animals. FIV and Feline Leukaemia, Five Freedoms

Grain Poisoning

Happy to be stuck with you, Human-animal bond, Heat Stroke

Internal parasites, Is it too late to spay or neuter my pet? Internet & Google- the good the bad and the ugly, It shouldn't happen to a vet, I don't vaccinate my animals

Kitten rehoming

Lamb rearing

Mafikeng rhino, Memories of Mafikeng, Mr Talkative, Mycoplasma bovis , Microchipping,

Nutrition, Nutrition in pet rabbits, New Year Animal Health Checklist

Obesity in pets, Onwards & upwards

Poisons in the pantry, primary health care, Plant poisonings, Pigs rule, Pig's Ear, Pathology & blood testing, Pet statistics in NZ, Phamaceuticals- the NZ situation

Rabbit calicivirus, Ramped up rhino, Resistance-squandering a miracle, Road block

Senior wellnessSheep measles

Tapeworm, TB in NZ, The nasties, The big move, The Challenge of Diamond Harbour, The thief, The Driving Lesson, Technology at work, Tom cat vasectomy

Urinary problems in cats

Vets’ cars, vaccination principles- ruminants, Vaccination of dogs & cats, Vet lifestyler

War wounds, Why vaccinate?, World veterinary year, World vaccination guidelines, Wild & stray cats

Yoghurtised milk recipe