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Livestock OTC Antibiotics Will Soon Require a Prescription

by Minden Press-Herald

Baton Rouge, La. – The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry wants to make livestock owners aware of an important date coming up. Starting on June 11, 2023, over-the-counter (OTC) livestock antibiotics will require veterinary oversight as a result of a new federal rule from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This includes both animals intended for food production and those that do not enter the food supply, such as dogs, cats, backyard poultry, pet rabbits, and pot-bellied pigs.

The new federal rule follows the FDA’s recommendation that manufacturers of medically important antimicrobial drugs that were previously available OTC and approved for use in animals (both companion and food-producing, regardless of delivery mechanism) be brought under veterinary oversight or prescription status. In 2017, OTC antibiotics used in animal feed were moved to Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), allowing closer veterinarian oversight of antimicrobial use in animal feeds. All OTC antibiotics placed in the drinking water were moved to prescription status at the same time. This new federal rule concerns the few antibiotics that remained available OTC in the form of injectables, intramammary preparations, and oral boluses.

By the June 11 deadline, the labels of all OTC antibiotics for livestock use will be required to read: “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian,” and the purchaser must have a veterinarian prescription to buy it.

Prescription-only items will include injectable tylosin, injectable and intramammary penicillin, injectable and oral bolus oxytetracycline, oral bolus sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethazine, injectable gentamicin for swine, cephapirin and cephapirin benzathine intramammary formulations. A complete list of included products can be found at this site: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/antimicrobial-resistance/list-approved-new-animal-drug-applications-affected-gfi-263.

Individuals with veterinary-client-patient relationships (VCPR) may purchase antibiotics directly from their veterinarian or from a distributor with a veterinarian’s prescription. Producers who already have a VCPR in place and purchase their animal health products through their veterinary office or through other distributors under an existing prescription system will likely notice little change. However, this may have significant impacts on how livestock owners can access antibiotic therapy for their animals, so contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible.

It is not advised that you stock up on these products to avoid needing a prescription once this change takes effect. Animal health products are expensive, have expiration dates, and are sensitive to storage time and conditions.

Most vaccines, dewormers, injectable and oral nutritional supplements, ionophores, pro/prebiotics, and topical nonantibiotic treatments will not require a veterinary prescription. However, there are some exceptions. Always read the label.

OTC antibiotics that are currently on the shelf at sites like feed stores may continue to be sold until they run out. Labels on medically important antibiotics distributed from June 11, 2023, will indicate that they need a prescription to be legally distributed.

For more information on these changes, visit:

US Food and Drug Administration

GFI#263:  Frequently Asked Questions for Farmers and Ranchers.

Antimicrobial Resistance | FDA

List of Approved New Animal Drug Applications Affected by GFI #263 | FDA

American Veterinary Medical Association


American Association of Extension Veterinarians

AAEV Resources (extvets.org)

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