What is a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP)?

A Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) is a legal category of professionally qualified persons who, under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations, are entitled to prescribe and/or supply certain veterinary medicines (POM-VPS and NFA-VPS).

There are more than 6,000 SQPs in the UK working in a range of organisations such as veterinary practices, pet shops, agricultural merchants and equine suppliers.

The veterinary medicinal products an SQP is entitled to prescribe and/or supply depends on the scope of the registration they hold.  It is the duty of an SQP to ensure that the statutory requirements in respect of the prescription and/or supply of these medicines are respected at all times, advising on choice of medicine and their safe and effective use, irrespective of how the product is supplied e.g. supply from a registered retailer premises, postal supply, from a website etc.

To register as an SQP you must undertake relevant training and demonstrate animal health knowledge and an understanding of the legal system for the dispensing of animal medicines.

Registered Premises

SQPs may only prescribe and/or supply the veterinary medicines that they are qualified for, from registered premises, these are described as:

  • A Veterinary Practice Premises (VPP) registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
  • A pharmacy registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council or the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland
  • SQP Retailers’ premises – a premises approved by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) as suitable for the storage and supply by an SQP

Find out how to become an SQP retailers premises.

SQP Categories

During training, all learners will undertake a programme of study for each SQP qualification they wish to achieve. Each qualification, in turn, leads to SQP registration for its relevant category. SQPs may register for multiple categories provided they are qualified to do so.

All SQPs will undertake a common base unit and will then choose additional units depending on the category of SQP qualification they wish to obtain. The different units are:

  • C – Companion Animal
  • J – Equines
  • L – Farm Animal
  • A – Avians

A list of SQP categories and the permissible medicines they can dispense can be found in the table below:

SQP CategoryUnit (s) passedPermissible Medicines
R-SQPAll (Companion, Equine & Farm)All VPS Medicines
C-SQPCompanionVPS – Companion animals only
J-SQPEquinesVPS – Equines only
L-SQPFarmVPS – Farm animals only
A-SQPAviansVPS – Avian only
E-SQPCompanion & EquinesVPS – Companion & Equines only
K-SQPCompanion & FarmVPS – Companion & Farm only
CA-SQPCompanion & AviansVPS – Companion & Avians only
G-SQPEquines & FarmVPS – Equines & Farm only
JA-SQPEquines & AvianVPS – Equines & Avians only
EA-SQPCompanion, Equines & AviansVPS – Companion, Equines & Avians only

What medicines are SQPs able to prescribe and/or supply?

An SQP is entitled to prescribe and/or supply the categories of product that fall within the scope of the qualification they have obtained and the registration they hold.  The range of veterinary medicines available to SQPs fall within the following distribution classifications:

NFA-VPS – (Non-Food Animal – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP)

NFA-VPS medicines are only for use in non-food animals where they may be used routinely to prevent or limit the effects of endemic disease (e.g. internal and external parasites), where there are risks for the user/animal/consumer/environment but these can be moderated by oral or written advice, and where the animal keeper can be given sufficient practical advice to permit effective and safe usage.

POM-VPS – (Prescription Only Medicine – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP)

POM-VPS medicines are mainly authorised for administration to farm animals and horses used to reduce or prevent effects of endemic disease in herds, flocks or individual animals (e.g. internal and external parasites in farm animals and horses, and some vaccines), where there are risks for the user/animal/consumer/environment but these can be moderated by oral or written advice from professional non-vets.

AVM-GSL – (Authorised Veterinary Medicine – General Sales List)

There are no legal restrictions on the retail supply of veterinary medicines classified as AVM-GSL, also known as ‘over the counter’ medicine.

More details on which medicines fall into which categories can be found on the VMD’s Product Information Database.

Find out how to become an SQP.