UK competition announces in-depth investigation of veterinary sector

Shares of veterinary companies plummet on the London Stock Exchange.

UK competition announces in-depth investigation of veterinary sector

Shares of veterinary companies plummet on the London Stock Exchange


The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally decided to launch a formal investigation into the veterinary care sector to look into competitive practices amid concerns that pet owners "may be paying for medications or prescriptions.

In this way, the CMA has opened a four-week consultation period to gather the opinion of the sector on the proposal to initiate an investigation, after which it will make a decision on how to proceed after analyzing the responses received.

A market investigation allows the CMA to investigate your concerns in depth and intervene directly in the markets if it discovers that the competition is not performing well.

In this sense, in addition to requiring those investigated to provide information, the CMA has access to a wide range of legally enforceable remedies, such as requiring the provision of certain information to consumers, imposing maximum prescription rates and ordering the sale or disposal of a business or assets.

The British authority launched a review of the UK veterinary sector in September 2023, including a call for information that generated 56,000 responses, including 45,000 from the general public and 11,000 responses from those working in the veterinary industry.

Based on the evidence collected so far, the CMA has expressed concern about the possibility that consumers will not receive enough information to allow them to choose the best veterinary practice or treatment suitable for their needs, as well as the risk that large corporate groups Integrated services can focus on providing more sophisticated and higher-cost treatments, meaning that consumers are less able to access simpler, cheaper treatments, even if they would prefer that option.

It also warns that concentrated local markets, partly driven by industry consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas and pet owners may be overpaying for medications or prescriptions. On the other hand, the CMA considers that the regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose.

"We have heard concerns from those working in the sector about the pressures they face, including severe staff shortages, and the impact this has on individual professionals. But our review has identified multiple concerns with the market which we believe should be investigated further. thoroughly," said Sarah Cardell, executive director of CMA.

In this sense, the director of CMA has pointed out that pet owners "have difficulty accessing basic information such as price lists and prescription costs, and potentially overpay for medications."

"Given these strong indications of possible concern, it is time to put our work on a formal basis. We have provisionally decided to initiate a market investigation because it is the quickest route that will allow us to take direct action, if necessary," he added.

Following the CMA announcement, shares of CVS Group and Pets at Home Group suffered falls of more than 18% and 7%, respectively, on the London Stock Exchange.