Ask the Vet

New Rules on Antibiotic Purchases for Livestock Start Soon

A veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) will be required beginning in June for livestock producers to be able to get a prescription to purchase antimicrobials that have been available over the counter. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)


I heard at the feed store recently that they won't be able to sell antibiotics anymore. Is this true?


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been concerned about antimicrobial resistance, especially with regard to those antimicrobials considered medically significant to human health.

You may recall the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) issued earlier, which only allows antibiotics to be added to feed or minerals for livestock under a veterinarian's guidance. The next step, the one you probably heard about at the feed store, will remove over-the-counter access to many antibiotics we are familiar with. This goes into effect on June 11, 2023.

Most antimicrobials, and many other drugs used by livestock producers, have a label that states: "Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian." After June 11, this statement will be on most over-the-counter antibiotics. What this means, simply put, is that you must have a prescription from a veterinarian to purchase them.

The following are expected to be affected:

-- Oxytetracyclines -- injectables and boluses, including LA-200, Noromycin 300, Terramycin Scour tablets, and others.

-- Penicillin -- injectables and mastitis tubes, including Procaine Penicillin G, Benzathine Penicillin G.

-- Sulfa antimicrobials -- injectables, powders, boluses, and liquids including Albon, Sustain III calf and cattle boluses, Di-Methox 40%, SulfMed 40% Sulfamethoxine, Sulfamethazine, Sulfadimethoxine.

-- Tylosin -- including Tylan 50, Tylan 200.

-- Cephapirin, cephapirin benzathine -- mastitis tubes including ToDAY, ToMORROW.

These products will still be available, but they will require a prescription. For a veterinarian to write a prescription, a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must exist. A VCPR requires several things under the law, including that: (1) the veterinarian assumes responsibility for the animal's health; (2) the client (owner) agrees to comply with the veterinarian's instructions; (3) the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to make a general diagnosis; (4) the veterinarian assumes responsibility for follow-up care, including adverse reactions and/or treatment failures; (5) the veterinarian maintains patient records.

This does not mean you will be required to buy antibiotics only from your veterinarian. You will still be able to order them online, by telephone or at local farm stores if those outlets elect to continue to stock them.

Antiparasitic products, nutritional supplements, prebiotics, and topical non-antibiotic treatments will not be affected and will continue to be available.

The only step you need to take prior to this June 11 deadline is to establish a VCPR with a veterinarian. I know that can be difficult for producers in many of our rural areas. I wish I had a magic wand to fix this, but this day has been coming for a long time, and I am not sure any group has taken this as seriously as we should have.


Editor's Note:

Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd or other animals. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.

Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask the Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email