US breeders need vet prescription to access antibiotics


The rule comes into effect on June 11, 2023

October 31, 2022

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3 minute read

Antibiotics are widely used to fight bacterial infections in humans and animals. However, if bacteria develop resistance to this antibiotic, the drug becomes less effective at fighting infection. For this reason, over-the-counter antibiotics will only be available to producers from a veterinarian or on a veterinarian’s prescription.

To ensure continued effective use in humans and animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has developed a Five-Year Veterinary Stewardship Plan designed to slow the emergence of antimicrobial resistance that can arise from the overuse of antibiotics in animals while ensuring the safe and effective use of medically important antibiotics in animals and humans, according to a press release from Michigan State University.

Many antibiotics are medically important to human and animal health. The intention of this legislation is to ensure that these drugs are used under veterinary supervision, thereby reducing the risk of development of antimicrobial resistance to these drugs in humans and animals.

In 2017, the FDA placed the use of feed and water-soluble drugs under veterinary oversight through the Veterinary Foods Directive. The next steps in this transition will bring over-the-counter products under veterinary supervision. As of June 11, 2023, all medically important antibiotics in dosage forms such as injectables, intramammary and boluses, approved for use in animals – food producers and companions – will no longer be available over the counter.

Medicines will also display the following statement on the label: “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.” Over-the-counter products are typically sold at farm stores, animal feed stores, and through online vendors.

To obtain these drugs, producers will need a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) with a licensed veterinarian. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) a VCPR is considered valid if all of the following conditions apply:

  • A veterinarian has assumed responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of one or more animals and the need for medical treatment, and the client (the owner of the animal or animals or other custodian) has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal or animals to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the state of health of the animal or animals.
  • The practicing veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in the event of adverse effects or treatment regimen failure. Such a relationship can only exist when the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally familiar with the custody and care of the animal(s) by virtue of examination of the animal(s) and/or through medical visits. appropriate and timely on the scene. where the animal or animals are kept.”

The VCPR does not mean that producers must purchase the drugs from their veterinarian, but it does mean that dispensing antibiotics will require a prescription from the veterinarian with whom they have a valid VCPR to purchase the drugs.

Antibiotics can be important for livestock producers to maintain the health of their animals. It is important for producers to be aware of the new requirements to a) establish an VCPR in advance for their herd and b) continue to use antibiotics, as needed, to maintain animal health.

Extension of Michigan State University recommends that small ruminant producers who do not already have a good relationship with a trusted veterinarian start looking for one and establish that relationship now, before an emergency arises or they need access to drugs that are no longer available over the counter. This will help the veterinarian become familiar with your individual management practices and the potential needs of your farm. MDARD recommends that veterinarians visit a farm at least once every 12 months.


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