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Food Animal Producers Beware

Food animal producers need to be aware that antibiotics may start disappearing off the shelves over the next few months. In 2021, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released Guidance# 263 to be implemented by June 11, 2023 stating that all food-animal antibiotics will need to be obtained via a prescription from a veterinarian. This is being done to help diminish antibiotic resistance to make sure that antibiotics continue to have the desired efficacy.

To obtain these antibiotics after June 2023, you will need a prescription. According to the FDA, “The involvement of a veterinarian is needed because judicious use of antimicrobial drugs requires an accurate diagnosis of the bacterial disease that is present, or likely to be present, and the selection of a suitable antimicrobial drug to address that disease (FDA, 2021, pg. 5)”. This diagnosis of the specific bacteria helps ensure that the proper antibiotics are being used to treat the animal and diminish antibiotic resistance.

Furthermore, producers are recommended to have an established Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR). This relationship between the veterinarian/clinic and the producer sets up an agreement of care. The veterinarian must be able to make informed decisions about the animals on a given farm. In order to do this, they need to be aware of overall herd health, vaccination protocols, and be available for follow up or questions. They also keep historical records on treatments. The client is agreeing that the specific clinic is their veterinarian, agrees to follow veterinarian recommendations and protocols, and keep record retention on what has been performed and used on their operation. Having a routine scheduled visit, at least yearly, is how the VCPR continues to be maintained.

To obtain a prescription is where the VCPR comes into play. If you establish your VCPR prior to June, you will be ahead of the crowd and have that relationship already in place. If you do not have an established VCPR, aim to find one. Once this relationship is in place and you require the use of an antibiotic, it does not necessarily mean that the veterinarian must be on site to prescribe. In order to write the prescription, the veterinarian must be aware of the producer’s commitment to treatment and make sure that these antibiotics will be used responsibly.

Just because these antibiotics may not be on retailers’ shelves does not mean that they are going away. The same antibiotics will still be available with the written prescription. Some easily recognizable examples of these antibiotics would be Penicillin and Oxytetracycline (LA 200 as an example). This will not affect ionophores and parasite medications.

Being aware of this prescription requirement early one can help food producers plan to ensure that they can still have a solid health protocol for their animals in the future, and a better connection with their veterinarians.

Author: Mercedes Moffett, Extension Educator, Carlton County, MN

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