Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Livestock antibiotics will need a veterinarian's prescription

Photo by Harry Grout, Unsplash
Beginning in June, livestock farmers must change how they obtain antibiotics. "Most over-the-counter livestock antibiotic medications will no longer be available for purchase without a veterinary prescription," reports Courtney Love of Successful Farming. "Since 2017, the Food and Drug Administration has been trying to bring all approved livestock antibiotics under veterinary oversight. . . . This is the final phase of the FDA’s Guidance on livestock antibiotic labels."

It is also the end of a long battle to regulate the use of antibiotics in animals, driven by concern that overuse of the drugs encouarges the evolution of pathogens that are resistant to them.

Jennifer Roberts, a veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim, told Love, "The public has an interest in what farmers are doing to care for livestock, and there's an expectation that we are going to use antibiotics judiciously with livestock . . . . This regulation allows us to have a little more input on the farm and to have conversations with farmers about following medication protocol. . . . It will allow farmers to communicate directly with their veterinarian when using those products, making sure they're using the correct dose and following the appropriate withdrawal time."

Love explains, "Most over-the-counter medication for any species of livestock, including cattle, will be affected by this new rule. . . . However, there will be some exceptions for vaccines, dewormers, fly control. . . .The new regulation will also exempt over-the-counter products purchased before the June date and will be honored as an over-the-counter medication until it expires, says Hayley Springer, a veterinarian for Penn State Extension."

In response to the changes, retail farm stores may no longer carry certain medications. "Businesses that sell, dispense, or fill orders for animal prescription drugs must have a state pharmacy permit," Love writes. "Because of this, most brick-and-mortar farm stores might decide not to sell antibiotics once FDA requires a prescription, says Craig Payne, veterinarian, University of Missouri Extension."

Prior to June, farmers will want to prepare. "If a producer doesn’t have a veterinary-client-patient relationship with a local veterinarian, they need to establish one. This means farmers will have to find a veterinarian that is willing to become familiar with their farm and style of animal care by either one examination or timely visits to the farm," Love reports. "Producers should check the requirements in their state, as some areas have stricter guidelines. For example, South Carolina nullifies a farm's veterinary-client-patient relationship if a veterinarian has not seen the farm within one year, says the American Veterinary Medical Association."

"It's a change, but I think farmers will get used to it," Roberts told Love. "For those that have a relationship with a veterinarian, it's going to be an effortless change. For farmers that need to establish a relationship with a veterinarian, it's going to be a positive experience." Love adds, "However, Roberts acknowledges it's a change for most farmers that have valued the convenience of purchasing antibiotics whenever the need arises on their farms."

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