What is a RAMA?

A Registered Animal Medicines Advisor (RAMA) is the name AMTRA gives to those people described as SQPs (Suitably Qualified Persons) by the Veterinary Medicines Regulations. The second is the legal term for the time being, though that might change in future, but the first describes the role better and is the name we are increasingly choosing to use in preference to SQP. However, the term “SQP” will still be encountered sometimes, including in some AMTRA documentation, and should be regarded as equivalent to RAMA.

Registered Animal Medicines Advisors have an important and responsible role, contributing to animal health and, in the case of farm livestock, farm profitability. They are entitled to prescribe and/or supply certain veterinary medicines under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations, but to do so must act professionally including following the rules of the Regulations and of an associated Code of Practice.

Becoming an AMTRA RAMA requires passing both written and oral exams, but that is not the end of the process: being an AMTRA RAMA means an ongoing commitment, acting responsibly, following the rules in the Regulations and Code of Practice, advising animal owners on choice of medicine and their safe and effective use, as well as other strategies, contributing to the health and welfare of their animals. There is also a requirement to do some ongoing learning known as CPD (continuing professional development) and to pay an annual fee to remain on the AMTRA Register of RAMAs.

AMTRA RAMAs are subject to disciplinary processes where we have reports of alleged non-compliance with the rules, and if found in breach can have action ranging from a letter of guidance through to permanent removal from the register of RAMAs.

What sort of people are RAMAs?

AMTRA RAMAs work in a variety of work environments – in veterinary practices, in agricultural or equine businesses, in pet shops. They can deal with customers face-to-face or via the telephone or Internet, but the legal and professional obligations remain the same.

There are about 7000 RAMAs on the AMTRA Register.

AMTRA provides a list of all the AMTRA RAMAs (SQPs) on the current year’s Register, which is published by VMD together with a list of the approved SQP Retailers’ Premises.

What medicines can RAMAs prescribe and/or supply?

A RAMA 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 – see table later.

The range of veterinary medicines available falls within the follow distribution classifications:

  • POM-VPS (Prescription Only Medicine – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP)
  • NFA-VPS (Non-Food Animal – Veterinarian, Pharmacist, SQP)
  • AVM-GSL (Authorised Veterinary Medicine – General Sales List)

In broad terms, the POM-VPS medicines are those in 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.

Similarly, the 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.

Details of which medicines fall into which categories can be found in the VMD’s Product Information Database and the NOAH Compendium.

What’s necessary to become an AMTRA RAMA?

To qualify as an AMTRA RAMA a person must undertake relevant training and pass examinations approved by AMTRA at Higher Education Level 4 or higher, and pass a viva (oral exam) conducted by an AMTRA Assessor.

  • Most AMTRA RAMAs become qualified via a modular approach (see below);
  • qualified Veterinary Nurses can become AMTRA RAMAs via a top-up exam that recognises their existing qualification;
  • there is also a route for pharmacy professionals via the Veterinary Pharmacy Education Programme;

For more information see the syllabus and academic qualifications required; the process is given in more detail under Becoming a RAMA.

For those student RAMAs enrolling via the most common, modular approach, all must pass the Base module and between one and three additional species modules: these determine the category of RAMA qualification obtained. The species modules are:

  • FAM – Farm Animal Module
  • EQM – Equine Module
  • CAM – Companion Animal Module
  • AVM – Avian Module

There are therefore a variety of categories of RAMA:

Category Modules
Passed
Permissible
Medicines
R FAM + EQM + CAM All VPS Medicines
G FAM + EQM for farm animals & equines only
K FAM + CAM for farm & companion animals
E EQM + CAM for equine & companion animals only
L FAM for farm animals only
J EQM for equine animals only
C CAM for companion animals only
A AVM for avian animals only
CA CAM + AVM for companion & avian only
JA EQM + AVM for equine & avian only
EA CAM + EQM + AVM for companion, equine & avian only

What about after becoming a RAMA?

All RAMAs are obliged to undertake CPD – Continuing Professional Development. The amount of CPD required depends on the category of RAMA registration (see above).

All CPD is accredited by AMTRA in advance, and a proportion is subject to an audit visit by an AMTRA CPD auditor. All CPD points are then recorded by AMTRA to keep track of how each individual is progressing.

All supply by RAMAs (SQPs) of POM-VPS or NFA-VPS medicines must be done from registered premises.