One of the largest livestock farms in Connacht was “grossly over supplied” with antibiotics and other prescription-only medication by a Co Mayo-based pharmacist, a court has heard.
Daragh Quinn of Quinn's Chemist, Bridge Street, Crossmolina, Co Mayo admitted to 34 breaches of Department of Agriculture regulations regarding the supply of animal remedies to a farm in Co Galway.
Castlebar District Court heard on Tuesday that Mr Quinn was over supplying antibiotics to farmer Richard Bourns of Lisbeg Farms, Eyrecourt, Co Galway, which is one of the largest farms in Connacht with up to 1,000 head of cattle and 2,500 sheep.
Louis Riordan, a veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture told Judge Mary Devins that on September 23rd, 2015, they inspected Lisbeg Farms and found a large quantity of antibiotics and formed the view there was a "gross oversupply" of the drugs.
The antibiotics came from Quinn’s Chemist in Co Mayo whose premises Mr Riordan visited on September 29th 2015. On inspecting Mr Quinn’s files and comparing them with the antibiotics found on the farm, Mr Riordan said there was an oversupply of medication sent to the farm.
Giving an example of Mr Quinn’s practice, Mr Riordan said on one occasion he dispensed a total of 26 bottles of a certain antibiotic over a period of time despite the prescription being for six bottles.
Mr Quinn pleaded guilty to a number of breaches of the European Communities Animal Remedies regulations, including the supply of animal remedies without a valid prescription and falsely endorsing a prescription.
While Mr Quinn admitted to the charges, he said his premises had been inspected by department officials on a previous occasion and his practices were never queried before then. Mr Riordan explained that it appeared that the vets had not inspected the animals before issuing the prescriptions and they were not cooperative during the investigation.
The overuse of antibiotics in animals, Mr Riordan said, was a problem as it could lead to bacteria becoming resistant to them but they could also be used to potentially increase the growth of livestock. He said the practice employed on Lisbeg Farms “paints a very sad picture”.
The court heard that Mr Bourns was “extremely difficult” to deal with and Mr Riordan claimed there was a “share of political interference” in their investigation.
While accepting Mr Quinn pleaded guilty, Judge Devins felt it would be difficult to find him guilty of some of the charges against him based on the evidence against him. She adjourned the closing submissions until September 12th in Ballina District Court.