AMES, Iowa – Those who treat animals with antibiotics will need to pay close attention to the calendar. Beginning June 11, all medically important antibiotics previously available over-the-counter (OTC) can only be purchased directly from a veterinarian or with a prescription.
The change is part of the Food and Drug Administration’s “Guidance for Industry #263” rule, which is part of the FDA’s five-year plan to enhance the stewardship of antibiotics, released in 2018. The same plan required the transfer of medically important feed and water antibiotics to veterinary feed directive (VFD) and prescription status in 2017.
Grant Dewell, extension beef veterinarian with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, explains the change in an article in the May-June edition of the Acreage Living Newsletter.
According to Dewell, the antibiotics affected include injectable, oral and mastitis therapy products. He expects the move to prescription (Rx) status will be less problematic than the VFD move in 2017, as most producers are familiar with prescription drugs and have been obtaining them through their veterinarian.
If producers do not already have a Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR), he recommends they form a relationship with a veterinarian sooner rather than later.
“I would reach out to a veterinarian before you have a need for antibiotics,” said Dewell. “You don’t want to wait and find out you need something over the weekend, or when your veterinarian is busy helping other clients.”
He advises against stockpiling OTC antibiotics, because they become less effective after their expiration dates. Besides losing efficacy from age, they can also be damaged by heat and sunlight so they should be stored carefully.
“As is the case with all drugs only keep on hand what you really need,” he said.
Although the change will require animal owners to work with veterinarians, Dewell said this can also be an opportune time to review past prevention and treatment options.
“If you have to get a prescription any way, there may be better antibiotics that you could use. You might also learn something new that could help prevent illness and potentially reduce the need to administer antibiotics,” said Dewell.
Photo Credits: 1. Lamb vaccination, by Budimir Jevtic/stock.adobe.com. 2. Farmer with veterinarian examining a calf, by Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com