Drugs in Livestock Feed Put Under Vet Supervision

AVMA supports a new federal rule on the judicious use of antimicrobials in livestock feed and drinking water.

Besides healing sick animals such as turkeys, cattle and hogs, antimicrobials have been used to improve feed efficiency and enhance growth.

Scott Bauer/AVMA

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, looking to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance in people and animals, today released the final rule governing the judicious use of antimicrobials in livestock feed and drinking water.

The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule empowers veterinarians to authorize antimicrobials when necessary for medical purposes only. Some drugs linked to antibiotic resistance have been used to improve the efficiency of livestock feed or fatten animals.

“The actions the FDA has taken to date represent important steps toward a fundamental change in how antimicrobials can be legally used in food-producing animals,” said Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods. “The VFD final rule takes another important step by facilitating veterinary oversight in a way that allows for the flexibility needed to accommodate the diversity of circumstances that veterinarians encounter while ensuring such oversight is conducted in accordance with nationally consistent principles.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association stated that it worked closely with the FDA to ensure the rule is “practical and in the best interests of animal health, public health and the veterinary profession.”

“Particularly critical” to the final rule, according to AVMA, is the requirement for a veterinarian-client-patient relationship when VFD drugs are used.

“This provision, which the AVMA fully supports, provides for both flexibility and consistency in how veterinarians and food producers can work in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of the FDA guidance,” said AVMA’s CEO, Ron DeHaven, DVM.

“This is really a milestone in the antimicrobial resistance strategy,” he added. “Veterinary oversight is critical to ensuring appropriate judicious use, and this provision provides clarity to those who will be responsible for it.”

Changes in how veterinarians, ranchers and farmers use antibiotics in food-animal production will go into effect in 2017.

Drug makers have participated in the process by voluntarily revising FDA-approved labels to remove production indications and bring therapeutic uses under a veterinarian’s oversight.

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The final rule, summarized in a 102-page document, is available at http://bit.ly/1KKuf6U.

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