Changes in federal regulations relating to antibiotic use in livestock began Jan. 1, but there are still many producers who are unaware of what they can and cannot purchase without a Veterinary Feed Directive from their veterinarian.
The regulation changes limited the use of medications as a feed or water-additive that are deemed medically important antimicrobials – including penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides, lincosamides, streptogrammins, aminoglycosides and sulfonamides. Dr.Craig Payne, state veterinarian for the University of Missouri Extension, explained that those medications are not banned, but in order to obtain them, producers are required to obtain a VFD from their veterinarian.
Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about the regulation change is that injectable antibiotics are no longer available over-the-counter. Payne explained that medications such as injectable penicillin or LA-200 are not subject to a VFD, at this time.
“There are some rumors that they may move to prescription status in the next two to five years, but right now they are still available over-the-counter,” Payne said.
Some retailers are no longer offering antibiotics of any type as of Jan. 1. Payne said some stores have opted to no longer carry the products, but they have not been forced to discontinue sales.
“When you dispense a prescription product in the state of Missouri, if you are a farm store or a feed store, you need to either have to a Class A or a Class L pharmacy license in prescription drugs. A Class L license is what someone would get if they wanted to dispense prescription water solubles,” Payne said. “The Class L license has some requirements past an annual cost, therefore some farm stores, feed stores aren’t willing to get a Class L license because of the increased restrictions that they would be under if they had a Class L license, so they quit selling water soluble-products. It is their choice, however, if they continue carrying injectables, like LA-200.”
A few other items have fallen under the change, including medicated milk replacers.
“The ‘trend’ is that more and more companies are pulling out the medicated parts and selling just the milk replacer,” Payne said. “But, if an individual wants to medicate it, there are some ‘additive’ packs that require a VFD and can be mixed in with the unmedicated milk replacer.”
Despite efforts by the University of Missouri Extension and many other organizations to educate producers about the changes, there are still many unanswered questions.
“I get a lot of calls form veterinarians as they are filling out the VFDs, trying to figure out what the methodology is on what they should be checking off, based on that information they have,” he said. “There is a big learning curve going on and there is information that is less than accurate and that really complicates the matter.”
Producers who did not have a relationship with a veterinarian prior to Jan. 1 are now required to obtain a Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship, or VCPR, in order to obtain feed additives and water-soluble antimicrobials. The requirement of a prescription of certain medications, however, is not a new concept.
“Things like Baytril, Draxxin and Nuflor, those all required a VCPR before they could dispense those products,” Payne said. “The changes with the VFD are just the oversight of medicated feeds that fall into the medically important category.”


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