Vets could be overcharged pet owners, regulator warns

Vets could be overcharged pet owners, regulator warns

12 Mar    Finance News, News

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has initiated a formal market investigation into the veterinary sector following a review that uncovered several issues within the industry.

According to the CMA, pet owners might be overpaying for medications and may not be adequately informed about treatment options. Sarah Cardell, the CMA’s chief executive, emphasized the need for further investigation, stating, “Our review has identified multiple concerns with the market that we think should be investigated further.” She highlighted the importance of addressing these concerns promptly and announced the decision to launch a market investigation as the most effective course of action.

The CMA’s initial review, which began in September and garnered over 56,000 responses from the public and veterinary professionals, underscored the significance of the £2 billion veterinary market for the UK’s 16 million pet owners. Cardell emphasized the substantial public interest in the matter, indicating the necessity of thorough examination.

The regulator highlighted several areas of concern, including the presence of concentrated local markets, potential anti-competitive practices by large corporate groups, and insufficient information provided to pet owners to make informed decisions about veterinary care.

The announcement of the market investigation has already impacted the veterinary industry, with shares in major players like the vet chain CVS Group and retailer Pets at Home experiencing significant declines. This move by the CMA comes amid growing concerns over rising costs for customers and the rapid consolidation of veterinary practices, with independent practices being increasingly acquired by private equity groups.

The transformation of the veterinary market through consolidation has been notable, with the proportion of independent practices decreasing substantially from 89% in 2013 to 45% in 2021. This trend has raised questions about competition and consumer choice within the industry.

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Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

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