Animal Health Community Embraces Changes to Ensure Responsible Use of Antibiotics

March 14, 2016

Industry Glossary

New rules and guidelines are coming into effect to govern the use of antibiotics for animal agriculture, supported by farmers, veterinarians and the animal health community, as we do our part to ensure responsible use of antibiotics. Bottom line: making these changes is the right thing to do.

For example, the animal health community has agreed to eliminate the use of antibiotics important in human medicine for growth promotion purposes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance to limit the use of these antibiotics only for the treatment, control and prevention of disease – not growth promotion. While some have suggested that FDA “guidance” isn’t strong enough, they may not understand that the U.S. animal health community is universally adopting this policy as part of a commitment to responsible use of antibiotics.

This voluntary adoption essentially results in a legal requirement. Here’s why: animal health companies have agreed to eliminate the label claim for growth promotion on antibiotics that are deemed important to human medicine. Removing this label claim makes it illegal for these products to be used for growth promotion. So, as of January 2017, it will be a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for any veterinarian to prescribe these antibiotics for growth promotion purposes.

Another upcoming change is a requirement for stricter veterinarian oversight. A Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which is essentially a prescription from a veterinarian, will be required by January 2017 when treating animals with antibiotics (via livestock and poultry feed) that are important in human medicine. These same types of medications added to water will require a veterinary prescription.  The VFD is another important part of the strategy to ensure responsible use of antibiotics.

Veterinarians play an important role in animal and human health. In fact, we take an oath to protect animal health and welfare, prevent animal suffering and promote public health.  This is an oath I take as seriously today as when I first swore to uphold it more than 20 years ago.

I’m proud of the collaboration of farmers, veterinarians and the animal health community with FDA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This type of cooperation is critical as we work to address antibiotic resistance.

In the spirit of increased collaboration and transparency, I would be happy to answer any questions about these new standards, animal antibiotics or other animal health concerns you may have. You may email me at or call me at 1-844-288-3623.