Antibiotic regulation changes coming this year 

The Food and Drug Administration unveiled a directive 10 years ago outlining a gradual transition of animal over-the-counter medicines to availability by prescription only. By June 2023, antibiotics and many other medicines will no longer be available on the shelves at feed stores or farm supply businesses. Producers will need to get a prescription from their veterinarians for the products. Medicines such as LA-200, LA-300, penicillin, sulfur boluses and mastitis tubes will all require prescriptions for purchase. The fast-approaching deadline means producers may want to start preparing now for the change that is in store. 

Vet-Client Relationship: Livestock experts recommend producers establish a veterinarian client patient relationship if they do not already have one in place. “This will allow their veterinarian the ability to write a prescription or provide them with the antibiotics needed,” Sarah Reinkemeyer, DVM and epidemiologist with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, explained.

The stipulations regarding telemedicine temporarily put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic expires in February. 

A proper veterinarian client relationship is not one solely established over the phone. “It’s important to understand you can’t just pick up the phone with a veterinarian you don’t know and expect that they’re going to sell you an antibiotic,” Barry Whitworth, DVM, specialist with the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension, explained. “That’s not a proper veterinary client relationship and I think some people think that’s all it takes.”

The specific definition of a veterinarian client patient relationship is dictated by each state. However, the overall regulations are similar from state to state. “The only way you’re going to have an acceptable relationship with the veterinarian is for that veterinarian to know who you are and to be on your farm enough to know how you do things. They have to have a good general understanding of the animals that are there, how you raise them, and what you’re trying to do with them,” Whitworth said. 

Additionally, Whitworth encourages producers to keep in mind veterinarians can get into serious trouble including getting their license suspended or incurring fines if they don’t follow the rules. “It’s a pretty significant thing for veterinarians if things go the wrong way,” Whitworth added. “I know people sometimes say, ‘Why don’t they just write me this prescription?’” The reason is they could face serious consequences for violating regulations.

Be Patient: Though in the works for quite some time, the final shift of over-the-counter medicines to by prescription only will also be a change for veterinarians. Therefore, producers should keep that in mind and be patient with their local veterinarians. “This was an FDA regulation and is new to the veterinarians as well as the producers. Work closely with your veterinarian during this transition,” Reinkemeyer said. 

Be proactive: Now is a good time for producers to take inventory of the over-the-counter medicines they use to treat animals. In addition, producers should initiate a conversation with their veterinarian to determine what steps they need to take to ensure they have those products on hand or are able to get them when needed.  

For those producers who already have a good relationship established with their veterinarian the change will have far less impact. “The people who don’t routinely utilize a veterinarian, they’re going to be the ones that are probably going to be shocked when they go down to the local co-op or feed store and there’s no antibiotics on the shelf anymore or in the refrigerator,” Whitworth said. If producers establish a veterinarian client patient relationship, inventory their medicines, and talk with their veterinarian about the upcoming changes, then the transition should be much easier. 


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