CMA launches a market investigation into the veterinary sector

23 May 2024

The CMA has confirmed its decision to launch a market investigation into the veterinary sector.

This follows an initial review last September which prompted 56,000 responses from pet owners and those working in the veterinary sector. In March the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) consulted on its provisional proposal to launch a market investigation which the CMA considered was the best route to fully explore these concerns and, if appropriate, take direct action to address them. That proposal was endorsed through the CMA consultation resulting in the CMA making the decision to launch a market investigation.

An inquiry group made up of independent experts, a Market Reference Group, will now oversee the investigation. The Group will be able to use the full breadth of the CMA’s formal market investigation powers to gather additional evidence, examine concerns in more depth and shape any remedies that may be needed to address these concerns.  It will decide whether there is a prevention, restriction, or distortion of competition and then consider what, if any, appropriate action should be taken.

Based on the evidence so far, the CMA’s key concerns remain the same as outlined in March. The CMA expects to use the market investigation to further explore whether:

  • consumers are getting the information they need, at the right time, to make informed decisions
  • a limited choice of vet businesses in some local areas is impacting pet owners
  • profits earned are consistent with the levels expected in a competitive market
  • vet businesses have the incentive and ability to limit consumer choice when providing treatments or recommending related services, particularly when they are part of large integrated groups
  • the regulatory framework is preventing the market from functioning as well as it could

Examples of potential remedies include mandating the provision of certain information to consumers, imposing maximum prescription fees and ordering the sale or disposal of a business or assets – all of which are legally enforceable. The CMA can also make recommendations to government – for example, suggesting changes to the regulatory framework.

Further Information

Read the detail of the CMA’s Review and consultation here.

Previous information provided by BSAVA is available here.

Assets to support veterinary professionals in small animal practice explain veterinary costs, manage cases on a budget and help clients manage the cost of veterinary care for their pet, have been produced by BSAVA. For quick access to the BSAVA explainer on Veterinary Costs Access the PDF here. and for assets intended to manage Veterinary medicine on a budget Access the PDF here. Additional assets have been produced through joint collaboration of veterinary associations as part of a cross-sector working group and are available here.