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Over-The-Counter, Medically-Important Antibiotics For Livestock Now Require A Prescription

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

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Photo by Edwin Remsberg

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By Nicole Cook and Kassandra Turnbull

In an effort to address the growing concerns of antibiotic resistance in livestock and in humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance #263 in 2021 regarding the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medically-important antibiotics in livestock production. Per the guidance, nationwide, effective June 11, 2023, livestock producers will be required to obtain a prescription from a veterinarian to purchase certain OTC medically-important antibiotics for animals. This blog post aims to shed light on the upcoming changes and their implications for livestock producers.

Under the new guidance, all medically-important antibiotics used in livestock production will be subject to veterinary oversight. Producers will no longer be able to purchase certain affected drugs over the counter without a prescription from a veterinarian. As of June 11, 2023, labels on those medications will read “Caution: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.”

The list of impacted drugs includes:

  • Gentamicin

  • Oxytetracycline

  • Lincomycin

  • Cephapirin

  • Cephapirin benzathine

  • Penicillin G procaine

  • Penicillin G benzathine

  • Sulfadimethoxine

  • Sulfamethazine

  • Tylosin

You might know the affected medications by some of their more common brand names, like LA-200, Noromycin 300 LA, Vetramyicn, Duramycin, Terramycin, SulfMed 40%, Draxxin, Penicillin Injectable, Dura-Pen, Tylan 50 or 200, ToDAY, and ToMORROW.

Non-medically important antimicrobials like coccidiostats, ionophores, bacitracins, carbadox, flavomycins, and tiamulin, are not affected by the restrictions.

While these changes may seem daunting, it's important not to panic. Instead, if you haven’t already, focus on establishing a “Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship” or “VCPR.” In Maryland, a VCPR must be established in-person and it only applies to one veterinarian.

A VCPR is a formal relationship between a producer and a veterinarian. This relationship ensures that the veterinarian assumes responsibility for making clinical judgments about animal health, possesses sufficient knowledge of the animals because the vet has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal, and provides necessary follow-up care.

Once you’ve established a VCPR, a VCPR form will be filed with your veterinarian's office, allowing you to purchase affected antibiotics through them or with a prescription from them.

Remember, as of June 11, 2023, you’ll no longer be able to just run to your local farm supply store to get a bottle of LA-200. While the medicines will still be available when you need them, you will just have to buy them through your vet’s office, or with a prescription from your vet.

While the changes may require adjustments, they offer several advantages for livestock producers:

Improved Antibiotic Selection: Working closely with a veterinarian can lead to the discovery of more effective antibiotic options for specific conditions. Veterinarians may also provide preventive measures, reducing the need for antibiotics altogether.

Tailored Management Plans: Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian enables a better understanding of your farm's unique requirements. This collaboration allows for the development of customized management, prevention, and treatment plans specific to your livestock operation.

Preserving Antibiotic Effectiveness: The guidance aims to combat antibiotic resistance. By implementing greater control over antibiotic usage, we can ensure their continued efficacy and limit the development of resistance in both animals and humans.

The FDA guidance on over-the-counter antibiotic restrictions for livestock marks an important step towards preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics and combating resistance. Although these changes require adjustments from livestock producers, establishing a VCPR and working closely with your veterinarian will ensure optimal animal health and welfare. By prioritizing this collaboration, we can safeguard the long-term efficacy of antibiotics and promote sustainable livestock production practices.

For more information, visit:

If you need assistance finding a livestock veterinarian in your area, contact your local extension agent.

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