Cattle Chat: Additional antibiotic regulations ahead

By Lisa Moser, K-State Research and Extension news service

MANHATTAN, Kan. —  When fighting a bacterial infection, often it means a trip to the doctor’s office to obtain a prescription. And when it comes to livestock and companion animals, a veterinarian is the professional guiding the treatment protocol.

In the U.S., the regulating agency overseeing antibiotic use is the Food and Drug Administration, and it is instituting a change to antibiotic labeling that will soon go into effect, said the veterinarians at the Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute on a recent Cattle Chat podcast.

GFI (guidance for industry) 263 is a plan for animal drug companies to change their labels from over-the-counter to prescription and it will go into effect June 11, 2023,” said veterinarian Brian Lubbers.

He said this policy covers all medically important antimicrobials that are used in food-producing and companion animals.

“Most of what we use in veterinary medicine is also considered important in human medicine with the main exception being ionophores,” Lubbers said. “This policy primarily addresses the injectable and oral penicillin, tetracycline and sulfa products. These products are currently available over-the-counter, and they will be moved to a prescription-only label.”

Lubbers said that for beef producers who already have an established veterinary-client-patient relationship, often referred to as a VCPR, this new policy will have little impact on how they run their ranches.

“Producers just need to have the oversight of a veterinarian with this directive, but they can still treat their animals without the veterinarian present and they are not required to buy the product from the veterinarian,” said K-State veterinarian Bob Larson.

Lubbers agreed and added: “While the veterinarians establish treatment protocols, they don’t have to actually observe every animal prior to the animal getting the prescribed treatment.”

Aside from the goal of reducing antibiotic resistance with this guidance, the veterinarians also see some additional benefits with this policy.

“Knowing that we have antibiotic oversight is a benefit with our trading partners and consumers,” Larson said.

Lubbers said that with closer veterinary oversight, health challenges may be addressed in a more efficient manner.

“A veterinarian may be able to recommend a better treatment plan with closer involvement to the herd and that can have additional health benefits,” he said.

To hear the full discussion, listen to the Cattle Chat podcast online or through your preferred streaming platform.

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