Changes Coming to How You Access Some Antibiotics…

Published on Wed, 05/17/2023 - 2:28pm

Changes Coming to How You Access Some Antibiotics…

  By Paul Plummer, DVM. PHD Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

 As dairy goat producers and enthusiasts there are some significant changes that will be taking place soon regarding how you access antibiotics to treat your goats. It is important for you to recognize that these changes are coming and start now to develop an approach to assure that you do not get caught unprepared with a sick goat.

What is the change?
Starting this month (June) all currently available over-the-counter antibiotics used in livestock production will become prescription only. This means that you will be unable to walk into your local farm store and purchase these drugs when you animals are sick. Instead, you will have to work with a licensed veterinarian to develop a valid client patient relationship (if you do not already have one) and then have the veterinarian provide you a prescription for the antibiotics.

Why is this change occurring?
Animal and human health experts have identified that these drugs are losing their ability to kill the germs we treat with them.  This is a process called antimicrobial resistance, and it occurs when the drugs that were once effective at killing germs stop working due to changes in the germs ability to resist the drugs. Every time we use an antibiotic it results in more pressure for this resistance to form, so it is critical that we reserve antibiotics for use only when they are needed. The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that the best way to assure that each use of antibiotics is appropriate is to require veterinary oversight of these drugs and will require a prescription for them moving forward.

What drugs are impacted and what are not?
These changes will impact all currently available over-the-counter antibiotics. This includes injectable tetracyclines and penicillin. Anthelmintics (used to deworm goats), calcium supplements, milk and colostrum replacers and other non-antibiotic compounds will not be impacted by this change.

What do you mean a “valid client patient relationship (VCPR)”?
The Food and Drug Administration requires that all prescriptions be issued under what is called a “valid client patient relationship”.  The definition of what constitutes a VCPR varies slightly by state, but in all cases it requires that there be a formal relationship between the veterinarian and the client under which the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the farm, management practices and has seen the animals to make prescription decisions. From a practical point, in almost all situations this means that the veterinarian needs to either physicaly exam the animals requiring the prescription, or have been on the farm recently and feel comfortable with making decisions based on their specific knowledge of the farm. As such, farmers need to make sure that they have established a VCPR with a local veterinarian in advance so that they can be prepared when they need to request a prescription.

How do I go about establishing a VCPR?
The simplest way is to identify a local veterinarian that you would like to work with and contact them directly. They can talk you through the process and assist with getting everything setup. If you want to have antibiotics on-hand for emergencies you can discuss the needs with them and determine if that can be accomplished. In most cases, with good communication and strict standard operating procedures it is feasible to have some antibiotics rapidly available. For more information on establishing a Valid Client Patient Relationship the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners has developed a handout available here:

In addition, the FDA has provided a summary of state and federal VCPR definitions available here:

Where can I get more information?
• Talk to your veterinarian
• Call your local livestock extension specialist
• FDA has provided several resources
  - Goat and Sheep Fact Sheet:
  - Frequently asked Questions:
  - Antibiotic Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine Brochure: